Sunday, February 28, 2016

Young Democratic Women Speaking Out

The most important question Democrats should be asking these days is not "How do we get young people out to vote?"  The question we should be asking is, "What issues concern you and what should your representatives be doing to address those issues?"

Well meaning politicians on the Democratic side are so intent on telling voters what they will do for them, they forget to ask if what they want to do is in fact what we want.  And especially so for young voters.  This is a shame, because it turns out they have a lot to say.

On Thursday, March 3, Charleston County Democratic Women will host three young women from our community, who will address just that issue.  It promises to be a great meeting, and I hope to see you there.

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Let’s Hear It!
From Our Future
March 3, 2016 * 6:00 PM
Holiday Inn Riverview

Savannah Frierson - Author and Administrative Assistant at the Avery Research Center, Ali Titus - Program Officer at the Coastal Community Foundation, and Monica Tanouye - Communications and Diversity Officer at the Coastal Community Foundation will talk about their perceptions of the political process, what they hope to see in the future and the ways they believe we can successfully work together for positive change in our community.

Join us to learn and add to the discussion in the Q&A following their presentations.

Please RSVP to

We encourage the participation of young Democrats in our meetings and the political process in our county, state and nation. We enjoy hosting our young members or members-to-be.

If you are a young adult or student of any age in search of a sponsor for the buffet dinner, please contact Jan Leonard ( by March 1, 2016, for more information.

Friday, February 26, 2016

It's Not About Us -- Yet

We Dems worry a lot.  I know I have been all but losing sleep over the idiots who are running for president on the republican side.  Who hasn't, really?  But yesterday I (accidentally) slipped into the shoes of a republican voter, and suddenly all this insanity became clear.

Imagine that you have over the past thirty-plus years, after having been knocked around by everything from oil embargoes and gas shortages to war, unemployment, underemployment, unaffordable housing, loss of health insurance, and on and on.  Overwhelmed?

Now suppose that you had a work ethic that taught you that with a hard day's work you would be paid fairly, you would be able to raise your children in health and comfort and with the potential for an even better future, and that you would be able to retire someday without worry, to enjoy whatever years remain.

And then think about how little free time most people have.  And how exhausted they all are.  And worried.  And disappointed -- no, angry.

Imagine that there are people who have had wealth and power, and imagine that they are angry too.  They are angry because they feel under constant threat of losing that power, and resent that they may not be allowed to create more wealth, with no restrictions.  It only took a few evil geniuses to convince others that there are ways to "persuade" the American people that this small group is entitled to all that wealth and power.

From Carnegie to Rockefeller to the Kochs to Art Pope,  that has been the goal.  They formed clubs and foundations and think tanks where the best and the brightest could strategize.  They threw many millions of dollars into these groups and into every aspect of our lives where they could influence us with their newspeak, where freedom really means the freedom of the wealthy to pillage and plunder, but we learn that it means the freedom to be angry at those who might take our jobs.  Liberty means corporations enjoy no regulations, no taxes, no obligations, but we believe it means Andy Griffith's "America."  Corporations are not just "job creators," but, so we are told, are people.

These great greedy minds have not only figured out how to turn themselves into heroes, but also how to focus our rage away from the oligarchs to those of us who are in their way, and those who are disposable.  They have bought much of the media and threatened the rest of it.  They have dazzled us with distractions, celebrities and electronic toys, convinced us that we need whatever they have to sell and raised the cost of living so that we are never able to feel secure and end up living in a constant state of worry.  We are too exhausted to look at the problem and work at the best solution, and we are all too happy to grab at the solution they have fed us.

This is the message of the plutocrats:  the answer to our problems is to rage at the minorities;  the answer is to control the behavior of those whose values are different than ours;  the answer is to give it up to the leaders who will carry out our rage for us.

In other words, give the power to the likes of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, all the others that have occupied the clown car.

One Trump supporter said it feels like giving the finger to the government.

And who is the government?  These days the government is the Congress that has popularity ratings lower than syphilis.  The guys whose only goal over the past eight years was to block Obama.  The ones who shut down the government in an attempt to deny people health care.  On some level republican voters know this, but this is not the message they keep hearing.  

Republicans in America know they are angry.  They know they are angry at government.  They know their Congress has done nothing for them.  They feel the anger, but they don't know the details.  So they blame Obama and they blame "government."  Basically, they are blaming exactly who they have been told to blame for decades.  Imagine Ted Cruz' surprise to find out that he is the government he has been telling people to hate.

I once had a conversation with someone as he repaired my washing machine.  It circled around money:  repairing rather than buying a new machine, pinching pennies after retiring, working as long as possible.  And at one point he exclaimed about people on food stamps who are ripping us off.  I countered that there are so few, and it is so much less than the corporations that are stealing from us.

His answer:  "But we can't do anything about them."

Our republican friends and neighbors know things aren't right.  And they are listening to the loudest voices in the room who are happy to give a shape to their anger.  Under the guidance of Kochs et al, the Rubios and Cruzes point the finger at Obama, as they have for eight years.

But what is interesting, is that so many of those republican voters know that there is something that doesn't smell right about the Rubios and Cruzes either.  They have all too well internalized the message that government is bad and politicians should not be trusted.  Trump supporters may not know that Trump has maximized his wealth by ripping off the government, or they may just give him kudos for succeeding at it.  What they do know is that Trump is not government and he is not a politician.  They know that he is angry at everybody,  except for them, because he has told them he loves them.

So that is my little foray into the minds of the republican voters.  Their support of Trump and the other idiots isn't about us just yet.  And hopefully Bernie and Hillary will be well equipped to offer the less crazy republicans a better choice come November.  And we have to remind ourselves that turning out to vote for one or another of the republican clown car isn't really about us.  Just yet.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Looking Down on South Carolina

I am not watching a lot of news coverage these days.  It's ugly, and too many news shows are getting off on the ugliness.  These days, the most important thing in the country appears to be the South Carolina primaries.  Why anyone would look to SC is a bit frightening, as we tend to take the lead in ignorance and bigotry, except that seems to be the appeal.

Here are the two bits that I saw on MSNBC yesterday, en route to more enjoyable DVR'd fare like Colbert:

There was an interview in a field full of cows.  The interviewer appeared to be a little unnerved by the size and number of cows; he made a point of being out of the way of anywhere they might intend to head.  There were two guys being interviewed; one of them was a younger white guy, the other an older black guy who was the more well-spoken of the two.

The black guy identified himself as a blue-dog Democratic, and pointed out more than once that he was proud to be such.  On the other hand, he was perturbed that neither of the candidates were talking about what they would do for the farmer.  Our intrepid interviewer then asked what he would like to see them address.  And this guy, who appeared to be intelligent, would get no more specific than to say that they needed to address the needs of the farmer.  Which he wouldn't specify.  And implied that maybe he wouldn't vote for the Democrats because they weren't addressing his needs, which apparently he couldn't address either.

After a few minutes of this go-round, the interviewer turned to the young white guy and there was an uncomfortable exchange in which the interviewer asked if he had decided who he would vote for, and then with an embarrassed chuckle added, "or if you are going to vote at all."

I was so flabbergasted by how unimpressive this blue-dog Democrat sounded in his fifteen minutes of fame that I wondered what was going on.  It occurred to me that he maybe has heard or even talked to someone on the republican side who maybe suggested that the Dems weren't addressing the needs of the farmer in South Carolina.  Just enough to sow the seeds of doubt, but vague enough not to bring up specific problems that could be addressed.

If I were working a Democratic campaign right now, I would be watching all those interviews.  The blue-dog guy had a name and location.  I would make absolutely sure that he was contacted, face-to-face, and that someone knowledgeable would be talking to him about exactly what he could expect from the Democratic candidate, versus from any one of the republican candidates.  Because it is the republicans that are killing family farms with subsidies going to big agra, and refusing to provide aid and incentives to our local farmers.  Let this guy know you are listening, and explain the actual policies and votes of each side, and of your Democratic candidate, and you have a vote, one who will share his view with others.

Here's the other gem I got from yesterday's "news."  It was that jackass Donald Trump talking in Walterboro.  I could only stomach a minute, but in that minute he said "second amendment rights" about a half dozen times.  In the way he has of stirring up the paranoia and of course without any facts to spare, he convincingly lay the groundwork for getting out to vote because otherwise they would lose their right to bear arms.

It was insulting.  This was not any more clever than Marco Rubio's repeating the same anti-Obama line at one of those debates a week or so ago.  This is what you do when you don't want to spend a lot of time or brain-power trying to reach a crowd.  An adviser had apparently informed Mr. Trump that guns was THE way to go with this crowd of yahoos in Walterboro, South Carolina.  He wouldn't need to know a thing about the economy and jobs, or the poor schools, because if you just throw a little red meat at this bunch, they will follow you right over the cliff.

So this is politics in South Carolina.  I have heard a few times over the past couple of weeks about Lee Atwater, the icon of dirty politics, and the dirty push polls against McCain in the 2000 primary.  Mark Sanford was interviewed by Maddow or Hayes or one of them, and they had a good laugh at how South Carolina was kind of the "wild west" of politics.  He should know.  He has played the game well, with his own gimmicks, as well as by following the playbook of national right-wing groups, as he did two years ago by running against Nancy Pelosi instead of his actual opponent.  The unspoken elephant in the room (no pun intended) of course is that here in SC, even someone as loathed as Mark Sanford can win election after election.  Sanford who votes consistently against small business, the environment, funding for his constituents.  Because our voters are obviously easily led by innuendo and bias.

And the Democrats again, true to form, are nowhere to be found to counter those strategies of lies and hate.

We keep talking about turning this red state blue, but in order to do that you have to actually listen and react to what is going on on the ground.  And even better, you have to anticipate what is going to be said.  You need to ask people what is important to them and respond with what you have done and what you plan to do.  You need to know who makes up your audience and what they think is important.  Because it really is not about the second amendment.  It may be farms, or development, or schools, or environment.  And there are votes that prove those right wing-nuts are not going to do a thing to move SC forward.

That blue-dog Democrat somewhere in farm country is just waiting to hear from one of us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Ironic Cherry Reads...

Dark Money
by Jane Mayer

The great Jane Mayer, who wrote Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, and The Dark Side, about the abuses that occurred during our "war on terror," has written another timely and gripping book of America and politics.  Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Radical Right is about as nail-biting as any work of political espionage.  It is a much needed expose of Charles and David Koch, who have been on a path to control politics and government since 1970, as well as a not-too-long list of the wealthiest few with the most power.

On that list, in a chapter on gaining control of the states, is Art Pope, who has engineered the demise of North Carolina through large donations to private and anonymous -- and untaxed non-profit -- organizations, which he controls.  Here I am in South Carolina well awash in right wingnuts with an anti-tax, pro-gun, anti-EPA, anti-Obamacare, anti-education agenda, and as I read about the gutting of North Carolina by Art Pope, my heart was breaking.

The "Kochtopus" as Mayer says this multi-layered secretive organization has been called, may have been incubating for a few decades, but it came into full flower with the first semi-annual donors' conference a week after the inauguration of Barack Obama in January, 2009.  It is this event that begins the book, because it was the election of an African American Democratic president that spurred these corporate giants to join forces to do everything in their power to, as the popular saying goes, "Take back the country."

In fact, when Donald Trump and Sarah Palin talk about taking back the country, the fans in the audience are unlikely to realize the true meaning.  It is in fact the goal of the Kochs to take the country back from anyone who believes that the government belongs to the people, and not just the wealthy.  Their fight has been, from the beginning, a fight against paying taxes, against environmental and worker safety regulation, against anything or anyone who would get in the way of profit.

Their means evolve over time, as Mayer describes in well-documented detail.  You may have heard that the Kochs are generous philanthropists, giving to The Kennedy Center, National Public Radio, The Smithsonian, and a mind-blowing number of educational institutes.  And all that generosity is not for nothing.

The Kochs have managed to fund programs in secondary schools as well as universities to influence and develop libertarian courses throughout the country, including our own College of Charleston, where, according to the Center for Public Integrity:
At the College of Charleston, the Charles Koch Foundation sought names and email addresses of any student participating in a Koch-sponsored class, and to be notified in advance of media outreach related to the school.
Textbooks in courses influenced by Koch generosity describe the New Deal as a failure and free market philosophies as the true path to success.   The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, opened in 2010, promotes the position that humans will be better off by adapting to climate change rather than fighting it; for example, we might "build 'underground cities' and develop 'short, compact bodies' or 'curved spines' so that 'moving around in tight spaces will be no problem.' "

With plenty of aforethought and great stealth, in 2011, before census results had been released, the plan to take over the country through redistricting began to be implemented.  In North Carolina, public meetings were held and public testimony obtained but ignored.  When the state supreme court was about to hear the suit claiming the maps violated the Voting Rights Act, outside cash wisely spent during the 2012 judicial race kept the court conservative, and in line.

After the 2012 election, the Kochs and their icky partners decided that the republican party could not be trusted to take the country back, so they redoubled their funding and their plans.  We may chuckle about how the republican party continues to try to rewrite their agenda to effect voters' feelings about them without changing their pro-corporate power anti-everything-else agenda.  But it has worked.

It worked dramatically in North Carolina, in states like Wisconsin and Kansas.  It worked to turn Congress not just red but Tea Party red.  And it has been courting and winning over our justices for decades.  They won't stop until they also can cut a notch into their belts for the presidency.

All those fear mongering right-wing ads that are carpet-bombing our state are being brought to us by the Kochtopus.  It is no surprise Marco Rubio has moved up in the polls, because there is a lot of dark money betting on that horse.  And it may be that nobody likes Ted Cruz, but he toes the Koch party line, and in return they will keep him well fed.  Follow the money.  As Mayer documents, most of it goes back to the Kochs.

I could go on.  This is a nearly 400 page book, and I wish there were an additional 400 pages.  It is horrifying, and it is hard to walk away from.  As it should be.

The Charleston County Public Library in an all-too-rare flash of wisdom, has purchased eight copies in hardback, as well as audio and eBook format.  I hope you will give this really important book a read.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Nino, We Knew You Too Well

The death of Antonin Scalia yesterday left me remarkably speechless.  It took a night of turning the event over in my mind before I could write about it.

Because he was so obviously going to be rattling his cage with the Supremes forever, it was inevitable that I would have from time to time imagined his death as the only likely way to move the Supreme Court forward.  There, I said it.

He may be a larger than life evil figure to me, not just because of his power, but because we are both full-blooded Italians.  Scalia more than fulfilled the stereotype I grew up with of Italian men.  He was a mafioso with an Ivy League education.  He was convinced that he was the smartest person in the room, and held contempt for those who he saw as beneath him.  Which was most of us.

He was rigid and held to simple and self-serving philosophies.  Calling himself an originalist, he was a proud founding member of the Federalist Society.  However, as with all obsessively rigid people, Scalia could blatantly hold a conflicting opinion if it served his interest, and wholeheartedly deny the conflict.  He condemned activist judges, except, of course, when it was him.  Because he was always right.

He was best friends with Justice Ginsberg, a friendship which totally flummoxes me.  We've all heard of warring attorneys enjoying after-hour friendships.  But I can't imagine someone as moral as Ginsberg being able to stick all that in a compartment so she can enjoy a glass of wine with Nino.  I have imagined that he must have enjoyed having all those women on the bench of late.  Not because he valued their opinions, but because he could engage in flirtatious sparring with intelligent female opponents.  What fun!

I do believe though, that as Obama's appointees became more influential, and at times he was even abandoned by fellow right wingnut Chief Justice Roberts, Scalia's narcissistic wit began to deteriorate.  Loose associations having to do with broccoli and his most recent failure to self-censor his racism suggest that Scalia was not quite as clever as his self-promotion made him out to be.  Perhaps it was the inevitable legalization of gay marriage that pushed his homophobic old mind over the edge.  In fact, it was after the DOMA decision that Scalia told an interviewer that the devil is real:

Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.
It’s because he’s smart.

Scalia was "Despicable Me" with less charm and more power.  He was not at all embarrassed at his conflicts of interest during his time on the bench because, after all, he was right.  He was indeed above the law, which is a scary position for one of the most powerful jurists in the land.

After a good night's sleep I find that it will be easier to accept the absence of Scalia.

It will come as no surprise that Mitch McConnell has already said that a new justice should not be appointed until after the election.  He would have said the same thing if Scalia had died two years ago.  Senate republicans have routinely chosen to leave seats vacant during Obama's presidency in the hope of filling them with more desirable right-wing candidates after the presidential election.  This has left a shameful backlog in the courts, but, hey, it's not about justice, it's about politics -- and power.

So for at least a year we will have an eight-member Supreme Court.  This will no doubt mean a lot of 4-4 decisions, meaning no decision.  Which I see as an improvement over the status quo.

I worry though.

I worry about how hard Ruth Bader Ginsberg is taking the loss of her friend.  To be honest, it's not completely motivated by empathy.  I worry about her health.  We need her more than ever now.

I worry about Clarence Thomas.  What on earth is he going to do without his buddy to hide behind, and say all the horrible things Thomas would like to say if he wasn't so bottled up with rage?

The ground shifted a little for me when I heard the news last night.  But I imagine the earth shifted a bit more for those remaining eight members of the most exclusive and sheltered club in all of this country.

We have survived a do-nothing Congress, and in fact, were better off for it.  Perhaps the remaining Supremes will just hang in and bide their time for a year or more as well.

As for Antonin Scalia, his last day on earth was spent at a friend's ranch, doing what he most enjoyed, hunting down and taking shots at the smaller and weaker among us.   

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It's Arithmetic

I heard today that the geniuses in Columbia might agree to raise the state minimum wage to $10 an hour, but not $15.  Not that that would happen for a few years anyway, and $10 an hour today is still a joke.  I can't imagine how a person can assume someone can live with health and dignity on $10 an hour.  I have to assume that it is the consequences of growing up in a state where the schools are so poor that they have graduated without math skills.

And nobody has sat them down to teach it to them.

When my daughter turned sixteen, she just couldn't understand how I could be so mean as to not get her a car.  One afternoon, I told her and my thirteen-year-old son to come to the kitchen table with a pencil and paper.  Then I told them to write this down... and proceeded to list all our monthly bills.  Then we listed my monthly income.  Before we had a chance to sum things up, my daughter threw down the pencil and ran out of the room.  Because the facts were tough.  We couldn't afford to get her a car.

Now our legislators are like the folks at MacDonald's that kindly wrote up a budget for their employees to follow, including helpful hints like, "get a second job."  They can't possibly assume that a person can live on $10 an hour unless, of course, they haven't done the math.  Because it would be just too cruel for these good Christian folks to know that people would have to live with inadequate housing, food, and heat, much less poor schools and little or no health care.  If they had to sit in their well heated (and air conditioned) offices up in the Statehouse, and try to figure out with a pencil and paper how to pay for the battered old car that needs a repair and requires insurance so that they can get to work (or to the doctor's office or to school to meet with a teacher), they would certainly not shrug and say that all an employer should have to pay their employees is $10 an hour.

We hear a lot from the republican side of reality about whiners.  Well, for an employer to whine about having to pay an employee a living wage just seems unconscionable.  I read somewhere recently that if an employer can't afford to pay a living wage, they had no business owning a business.  You can't be very good at what you do if you can't figure out how to do it without paying slave wages.

And yet we hear -- and have been hearing for many decades now -- about how paying people a living wage will cause the economy to collapse.  Meanwhile, folks like those who head up Walmart and MacDonald's are perfectly happy making millions of dollars and allowing the government to feed employees that live in poverty.  For that matter, the Trumps and the Kochs are delighted to take money from the government any way they can.  Have done for decades.  Apparently they believe that because they have wealth the government should give them more wealth.

And apparently, voters who are trying to stretch their dollars to cover college and home repairs and maybe a vacation, also believe that the Kochs and Trumps deserve that money more than those living on $7.25 an hour.  Because they keeping electing jackasses who keep whining about helping low wage workers, who refuse to make employers do the right thing by paying them a living wage, and who keep giving away the store to the largest and wealthiest among us.

Bill Clinton said it in 2012, and we need to apply it to everything every politician tries to tell us:

It's about arithmetic, and it's about values.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Ironic Cherry Reads...

Out of Sight by Erik Loomis

Simply put, the sixties saw a cumulation of disastrous events that polluted air and water and caused illness and death to workers and communities.  Responding to the outrage of the American people, in the seventies Congress overwhelmingly passed bills like The Clean Air Act and The Occupational Safety and Health Act.  American workers who joined labor unions saw dramatic improvements in wages and working conditions.

But in the mid-seventies, economic shockwaves  rippled through the country, as OPEC imposed an oil embargo that resulted in fuel and food shortages.

As Naomi Klein describes in The Shock Doctrine, corporate and financial power uses times of crises to coerce frightened and insecure populations to give up freedoms and benefits.  The seventies saw labor unions pressured and acquiesce, giving up wages and benefits under the threat of businesses laying off workers or closing down entirely.

The strategy was such a success that states without strong unions and which would offer tax incentives to relocating companies became the destination for much of U.S. manufacturing.  But even better, corporations found that they could outsource work to third world countries and enjoy greater profits without being held accountable for workers' or environmental conditions.  Poor nations with corrupt or weak governments welcomed American business.  Outsourced factories pollute with abandon, and mistreated workers have no recourse to complain.  Corrupt governments and factory owners work hand in hand to provide the goods needed for American companies to continue to make record profits.

And hence, out of sight.

Here in America, as wages have stagnated for decades, consumers look for least expensive goods and are happy not to know about the country of origin as well as the working conditions that exist to manufacture those cheaper goods.  And because we buy those cheaper goods, there is no incentive for corporations to either improve workers conditions in other countries or to relocate back to the U.S.

The vicious cycle completes as U.S. workers continue to lose power over their ability to earn a living wage due to the threat that companies will shut down and relocate to a more profitable economic climate.

The irony is that, while workers in third world countries work for pennies in dangerous conditions to provide us with cheap clothing, toys and electronics, we have been unable to maintain the environmental gains of the sixties and seventies.  We have elected leaders who promise to cut taxes, businesses that cut corners to increase profit and a crippled Environmental Protection Agency, resulting in deadly drinking watergas leaks that make breathing the air hazardous, and other environmental disasters that we seem to be unable to stop.

Out of Sight is an important book, in that we need to become aware of the effect of corporations with unlimited power throughout the world.  It turns out that what affects workers in Bangladesh affects us all.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

All Politics Is Local

I have in the past tended to follow national politics, so much louder and glitzier than the local variety.  But a few years ago I began tracking state legislation for our ACLU and a whole new world opened up.  And sucked me into it.

Local politics is not pretty.  And it is exhausting work documenting so much stupidity.  But somebody ought to do it.  Because we really, really need to know what is going on up there in Columbia.  Because it has so very much impact on our lives.

Here in South Carolina, the dark work of the legislature is evident in our "minimally adequate" schools, with extraordinarily high dropout rates and inadequate employment.  Whenever a South Carolinian does not go to a doctor because they are uninsured, we can thank our legislature and our governor for refusing the federal Medicaid expansion dollars that are actually our federal taxes.  "No thank you, I don't want my money."

It was the wisdom of our state legislators that, in light of the horrific mass shootings in our country, passed a law allowing guns in drinking establishments, making restaurant and bar owners responsible for posting when guns are not welcome.  Of course, the thing about guns is that when you don't want them you anger the people with the guns.

And oh my, our infrastructure.  Any homeowner with an ounce of sense would make use of a windfall to make needed repairs -- keep up that important investment.  Yet when the price of gas falls precipitously, instead of looking at our crumbling and dangerous roads and bridges and seeing the opportunity to make them right argue about "new taxes."  We remain a poor state because we squander any kind of financial opportunity.

Meanwhile -- and you have all heard me rant about this -- the idiots at the Statehouse continue to flood the docket with new anti-abortion bills that say the same thing as the old ones.  We also apparently need a bunch more bills that honor and revere the 2nd amendment.  Instead of paying for better education, our tax dollars are going to go to plaques in every school that declare that "In God We Trust."  I guess with the poor state of our education, those yahoos figure we'd better pray.

And they are all over the threat to our state presented by poor Mexican immigrants, gays, Muslims, atheists, pregnant women, low wage-workers, and workers attempting to form unions.  They are on guard protecting the interest of big out-of-state businesses who have the god-given right to pollute and profit here in South Carolina.  Nikki Haley has fought the valiant fight to channel millions of tax dollars to big corporations while anyone living below the poverty line -- and there are quite a number of us here -- are subject to scorn and the threat of laws that would require drug testing and other humiliating and near-impossible requirements.  And pay attention, small business owners.  When our legislators say they are "for small business," y'all better check your pockets.

So we can track the legislation, call and write senators and representatives, but unless we change the makeup of the Statehouse, we are shouting into the big winds caused by global climate change that our legislators mostly deny.

Here it is, 2016, and every damn member of the legislature is up for re-election.  The sad thing is that in way too many cases, they will be re-elected without a breath of protest.  We can complain about gerrymandering, and it would be a legitimate complaint, but the fact is that most voters want the same things, and don't have (or don't think they have) anyone to vote for that would get us there.

If there are few courageous individuals that are willing to speak loudly to the abuses of our current legislators, not only will there not be options, voters will not even be aware of those abuses or the better options.

I don't believe that the majority of the people that re-elect Lee Bright really are voting against abortion, although I'm sure he does stay awake nights imagining all the dirty doings that create that "preborn child."  His war against anything that looks like a tax -- which I believe is the secret to his longevity -- needs to be countered with facts about how much more it costs most of us when taxes are cut.

We Dems don't tend to run on the need for taxes because we have let ourselves wear the "tax and spend" label even when it has proven false.  And yet, here is Bernie Sanders getting support from republicans who see him as more responsive to their needs than Trump or Cruz.  If we believe in good government services, we need to learn to sell it.  As Trump has shown, politics is mostly about sales.  And in sales, you have to believe in yourself or no one else will believe in you.

I am hoping that our State Democratic Party this year will show some of that fearlessness.  I am hoping that they will encourage people to run against the right-wingnuts that we have for too long thought were impregnable.  And put some money behind it.  A candidate that runs against a right wing wacko needs funding, needs publicity.  And our party needs to find a way to support all the Democratic candidates that are stepping up to fight this entrenched and old party.

Instead of thinking that money spent on a Democratic candidate may be money lost, we should believe that money spent to give a Democratic candidate airtime is money spent on the future of the Democratic party.  I believe that our platform is the right one.  I believe that responsible taxation creates jobs, improves our standard of living, and pays it all forward.

And on the other side, I see the party that claims to be for small government stealing from small business owners to give to big corporations and taking away workers' rights to fight for better working conditions so that those big corporations can boast bigger profits.  I see this party that fought Obamacare on the grounds that it would bring big government into our doctors' offices propose twenty or more bills doing just that to women, from conception to the disposition of a fetus.

That old party is the party that fights government regulation if it means making our neighborhoods safer, our air and waters cleaner, our children better educated.  Yet they propose bills to regulate the poor and monitor refugees.  Yes, under this bunch there would be laws that require immigrants and refugees to produce documentation, but they invite those from other states to bring in y'all's guns, and oppose background checks and bans on assault weapons.  Because as they say, if they can stop just one terrorist from coming into South Carolina it will be worth denying all those others the right to live free.  But if you take one gun away from one gun nut, you are denouncing American values and bringing down the nation.

So we have a lot of hypocrisies that need to be confronted.  And we have lots of smart people who could do the confronting.  So let's get our Democratic Party behind them.  And let's give them the opportunity to be heard this election year.