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The King in his Realm hath two superiors: God and the Law. -- Henry Care (1646-1688) on English liberties and the Magna Carta


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|Campaign 2016 | Mainstream Propaganda

The Black Hand and Flat Feet of Jeb Bush


Imagine a political activity committee (the Right to Rise PAC supporting Jeb Bush) that wants to produce a mailer to Iowa voters touting their candidate.

Imagine that these poor imbeciles have zero photos of the candidate for whom they have banked over 100 million dollars. Just imagine they are too stupid to go online and look at any of the numerous tweets the Jeb Bush campaign itself has put out to the public. Or any of the photos that Bush fans have tweeted or facebooked. They are beside themselves with despair. How oh how can they produce this mailing with no Jeb photo?

Now imagine someone at the PAC finds a photo, but it only has a head of Jeb. Drats! Oh, wait, another staffer finds a hand! It’s slowly coming together, but they search and search and cannot for the life of themselves find a full-body photo of Jeb.

With time running out, they desperately find a photo of a black man. “That will work!” they cheer. “We only need to photoshop the head and hand of Jeb that we’ve found onto the black guy! No one will be the wiser!”

In a frenzy, they turn the black man into Jeb. But since they are supremely stupid, they do not notice that they have failed to cover up the black man’s other hand. Oopsie! It gets left in the photoshopped cutout of Jeb.

No time to waste, they rush to slap the photoshopped black-hand Jeb onto a picture of an Iowa cityscape and hurriedly snail mail their pamphlet to over 86,000 Iowans. High fives all around at Right to Rise. “Yes!” they shout, and then shut off their phones and go for dinner and drinks.

The Iowa mailer for Jeb Bush, as tweeted by his Right to Rise PAC. The fevered minds of Think Progress and numerous mainstream media outlets will declare the Jeb on the right is actually a black man with a Jeb head photoshopped over him.


Now here’s where the clever villains of our story come in. ThinkProgress—the master left-wing propaganda think tank that gives the mainstream media their daily marching orders, complete with talking points, graphs and other handy resources—sees the mailer go out and their beady little race-obsessed eyes immediately spot the dastardly deception.

In a fevered frenzy, ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum hastily types up a damning news alert:
Jeb Bush Super PAC Sends Mailer To 86,000 Iowans With Jeb’s Head On A Black Body. Oh my!

A closer examination, however, shows that the flier features Jeb’s head on a black man’s body. In the flier, one of Jeb’s hands appears to belong to a black man.

Here’s the picture they included as the sum total of their research that serves as complete proof of their ThinkProgress investigation.


There’s no mention of attempting to contact the Right to Rise PAC for confirmation or the Jeb campaign.

At the moment of this writing, the investigative news has been shared on Facebook 11,406 times and Tweeted 2,881 times. That does not include the retweeting of ThinkProgress’ multiple tweets of the story.


It didn’t take long before other foolishly renowned news organizations took this gospel truth of Jeb’s black body, and feverishly typed up their own stories. “Hurry! There’s clickbait to be had!” the cry went out across the mainstream media. “It’s too good to check! Just run it!!”

Time magazine was an early entry into the click bonanza, with whiz kid Zeke Miller’s story titled: Jeb Bush’s Super PAC Has a Bad Photoshop Moment.

Jeb Bush has fallen victim to what appears to be the first Photoshop fail of the 2016 campaign….

Right to Rise USA tweeted a picture of the inaugural mailing, which appears to show Bush posing in front of a bridge in what appears to be Cedar Rapids, the second largest city in Iowa.

But a closer look at the photo seems to show that Bush was actually superimposed on a a stock image of the city, while his left hand appears to belong to someone else.

Federal Election Commission could be partly to blame. The FEC bars coordination between a super PAC and a campaign, so if Right to Rise wanted a photo of Bush in Iowa, they couldn’t just ask for it.

Again there’s no questioning the absolute idiocy of finding a random black man’s body and pasting a famous, white Presidential candidate’s face and hand on it. Miller makes no mention of attempting to verify what he is reporting. (And why should he? After all, it’s been reported by the vaunted Think Progress. In media circles, what they say is truth, even if it’s false.)

Miller also sent out a fabulously snarky little tweet to promote his piece of fine reporting:

Have you, dear reader, begun to suspect that something is amiss with this story? It’s easy to be gullible when you so desperately want to believe something. Let’s see who else did not bother to question the narrative. I don’t want to bore you with repetition, so here’s just a sampling.

The winner of the “Absolute Insanity” reporting prize goes to New York Magazine and their bonkers Chas Danner, taking liberties with already questionable facts: SuperPAC Gives Jeb Bush a Black Hand in Recent Mailer [Note: Bold print added to highlight some particularly amusing texts.]

A flyer put out by the Jeb Bush-supporting SuperPAC Right to Rise USA got a little overzealous promoting the candidate’s diverse appeal this week. The mailer, which R2RUSA sent to 86,000 Iowans, was attempting to answer the essential question, “Why Jeb?” and featured the smiling candidate standing with his hands on his hips — except one of the hands definitely wasn’t his, or white:

“Definitely wasn’t his.” “Definitely wasn’t…white.” Danner knows this information that he is passing on to his loyal readers for an absolute fact. He is definite. Can’t get any surer than that. But Danner isn’t done. Let’s watch him descend into the pits of crazytown:

And if you look at his other (right) hand, you can see that it was digitally colored white as well, as the awkward supposed shadows are the same color as the black hand. This is clearly what happens when, even in a post-Citizen’s United world, candidates aren’t allowed to coordinate heavily enough with their SuperPACs and the poor SuperPACs have to hit the stock images and rely on some communications intern to figure out how to Photoshop their white Republican candidate’s smaller head on a larger black man’s body. Poor Jeb, even his supporters think he needs a better body to win.

We haven’t seen such bad Photoshop analysis since the days of the media trying to prove Anthony Weiner’s “bulge” photo tweet wasn’t really Weiner’s. According to Danner’s expert photo analysis, the “awkward supposed shadows” match up! It must be a fake!

But Danner goes one further. It wasn’t a white hand photoshopped on top of a black hand, with “awkward supposed shadows” added. No, Danner droolingly believes that the Right to Rise PAC went so far as to digitally bleach a black man’s hand.

Most hilariously, after dutifully bashing the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision, Danner attacks the size of Jeb’s head. It’s too small for a big black body! he says. And that body, lawdy, lawdy, the black man’s body is a “better body” than Jeb’s. Oh, Chas.

On the other hand, our liberal friends across the pond at The Guardian (‘Why, Jeb?’ Pro-Bush Iowa pamphlet gives candidate one black hand, by Alan Yuhas) proclaimed Jeb!’s head to be much too large. In fact, the entire photoshop collage disturbed them, getting in some snarky digs:

Closer inspection of the mail, which was sent out by Right to Rise USA, prompted further questions. What, for instance, is going on with the perspective? The leaflet shows Bush with a giant head, a political Godzilla to scale with city hall. Why does Bush appear to hover somewhere over the Cedar River, neither level with the shrubbery nor in any clear relation to the water? Is he supposed to be floating, messianically, over the waves? Is he somewhere else, standing in the blue ether with his name? More mundane explanations are also possible. Perhaps Right to Rise knew that Bush has never grinned with hands akimbo in the center of Cedar Rapids, and a staffer therefore superimposed him awkwardly on to an easily found stock photo of Iowa’s second-largest city. Following that notion, other questions arise. Why does Bush’s shirt appear to glow in florescent tints of turquoise and purple? Is he making a statement as the candidate for bioluminescent conservatives? And what’s with the question itself? It seems to cry out for a comma that would turn the two words into an expression of Americans’ apparent exhaustion with political dynasties: “Why, Jeb?” Clearly, the Super Pac meant “why Jeb?” in the sense of “why should Iowans vote for Jeb?”. But the image and and text have no real context. This could be an ad for almost anything. “Jeb” might be the name of a new cholesterol medicine; the bespectacled man in the distracting shirt could be the doctor you should consult before asking whether Jeb is right for you. Then there’s that hand. It is several skin tones darker than any tan a son of George HW and Barbara Bush has ever managed – and much darker than the skin of man who once registered himself to vote as Hispanic and then tweeted: “My mistake! Don’t think I’ve fooled anyone!” The leaflet and its many questions are not directly attributable to the Bush campaign – under federal law, Super Pacs are not allowed to co-ordinate with candidates. But it is doubtful it fooled anybody either. No mailer is going to introduce the son of one former president and the brother of another as a new political force. Millions of dollars cannot do the work of one good Photoshopper. Jeb Bush is still white. Right to Rise USA did not immediately respond to a query about what happened to Bush’s left hand.

At least Yuhas did not fall prey to reporting with no facts in evidence that it’s a Godzilla Bush head on a black man’s body. At least he mentions that he attempted to contact Right to Rise for information.


I know my readers would have caught the obviously absurd premises of the Think Progress story that started it all. At the time, I tweeted:

The entire imagined scenario at the top of this story did not happen. That is not the body of a black man with a tiny or giant Jeb head on it. It is Jeb with his own head, his own dad bod and his own two white hands.

One thing that the photoshop story does reveal if you look closely is the enormous flat feet on Jeb. His people let this story gain a head of steam with zero rebuttal until almost a whole day went by. Major publications put the story out, and as of this writing, none of the ones mentioned above have updated their story to correction the information.

This would have been a perfect opportunity for the Bush campaign, their PAC and the GOP to mercilessly mock Think Progress and the mainstream media for creating such a ludicrous story. But no. They seem to be content to let it appear to be the truth.

They have apparently not insisted that any of these news organizations should issue corrections and apologies for these stories. The uncorrected ridiculous stories continue to be read and shared on Twitter and Facebook, for all to laugh at a fevered dream being pushed as fact. Tens of thousands have seen it and believed it to be true. Even on the right. Search Twitter and you’ll see it’s bipartisan mockery of an absurdity they accept as real.

I had to dig around to find a publication that was reporting the truth of the story. Wouldn’t you know, it was a British paper, the Daily Mail (Jeb Bush super PAC admits to Photoshop ‘fail’ in mailer to 86,000 Iowans after one of candidate’s hands appeared to be someone else’s) and their reporter Christopher Brennan, that did actual reporting to give some accurate information. [CBS’s Reena Flores also did a story showing the real photo (Jeb Bush super PAC denies Photoshop mishap claim).]

However, Bush had previously been seen wearing the same shirt as the one on the mailer on various occasions.

In response to the allegation Saturday afternoon, Right to Rise spokesman Paul Lindsay directed Daily Mail to a tweet showing the original photo of Bush.

The darkened hand appeared to be caused by a shadow cast from a woman next to the candidate.

But, as you can tell from the headline, even their story spun the photo as a “Photoshop fail.” It wasn’t a fail. Perhaps it could have been better, but it’s highly unlikely any of the 86,000 people receiving the mailer thought twice about his shadowy hand, let alone even noticed it.

The permission to label it a fail came from the Right to Rise PAC’s spokesman. In a staccato, rather cryptic tweet, he himself called it a “Fail.”

Instead of tweeting the rebuttal directly to reporters writing up silly stories on it, instead of mocking Think Progress’ lunacy in his response, he tweets “Mysterious hand revealed. Meant to use Valencia. Fail. Not deleting it from our servers.”

Who or what is Valencia? Was Valencia supposed to be used in place of or in addition to Jeb? Why is he taking the defensive posture of “not deleting it from our servers”? Is this a bad joke using a Hillary reference? Or was someone suggesting they delete it to prevent people from seeing the mailer? What are reporters supposed to do in trying to quote this weirdness in their stories?

Searching Paul Lindsay’s twitter account, it seems he did tweet the photo to Mark Hemingway and Olivia Nuzzi, but not to mainstream or left-wing media. Sadly, the Right to Rise twitter account hasn’t bothered to tweet anything about it.

The frustrating thing for me, an avid opponent of Jeb’s candidacy, is to see such a hideous PR response by a candidate many of us fear will be forced down our throats once he unleashes his hundred million dollars to attack the candidates we prefer. Is this the kind of plodding, flat-footed, half-hearted response we can expect if he becomes a general election nominee? Is the management of this incredibly idiotic falsehood symbolic of the asleep-at-the-wheel candidacy of Jeb Bush?

In the meantime, by being so flat-footed, by taking until the next day to even bother to try to counter the narrative that had now gained international root, it was Donald Trump who got the last laugh. He tweeted the unrebutted story and got over 5,000 retweets and favorites: 

|Political Prudence

In #SC1, Divorce Is Not a Disqualifier--Nor Are the Contents of Its Sealed Family Court Records

Divorce is hard. Feelings remain raw for years over the broken dreams and plans that had been made that will now never be. It’s one thing if a couple can just go their own separate ways, building separate lives and building little walls and fences that can protect the heart. But when the couple shares children and both want to be active participants in those kids’ lives, the lives remain intertwined, the protective barriers prove to be porous.

And so it seems to be the case with the divorced lives of Mark and Jenny Sanford. But even with their attempts to find a family harmony, a way for them all to feel happy and fulfilled, they’re doing so in a fishbowl despite their best efforts to work things out privately. I feel for them, having every stumble put under a microscope of people who don’t know them and would prefer to use their pain and struggles for their own political benefit.

Out of that fishbowl sloshed news on Tuesday that the Sanfords would be going to family court in May to address an alleged trespassing charge arising out of the home visitation limits set by their sealed divorce decree. Two things are evident: one, none of the Sanfords–Jenny, Mark nor the four children–wanted the public sticking their noses into their private lives; and two, someone for political purposes with no concern for the Sanfords obtained (possibly illegally) the sealed family court record and released it to the public (again possibly illegally) to harm the Sanfords as much as possible.

In her statements, Jenny Sanford said: “It is a private matter. The documents are real, but it was my understanding that the documents would remain sealed, along with our divorce agreement….I am doing my best not to get in the way of his race. I want him to sink or swim on his own. For the sake of my children, I’m trying my best not to get in the way, but he makes things difficult for me when he does things like trespassing.

In his statement, Mark Sanford said: “I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened….out of respect for Jenny and the boys, I’m not going to have any further comment at this time.”

I feel for Jenny and I feel for Mark. I can see both of their sides, but most of all, I can see it’s none of my business how they decide to work it out. I just wish them all comfort and peace, happiness and health–and I wish them privacy in their private lives.

I’ve been pleased to see that Elizabeth Colbert Busch herself has had the integrity to only say “no comment” in response to media inquiries to the content of the Sanfords’ sealed divorce and family court records. reports: “Sanford’s opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch was herself party to a very contentious divorce years ago. She was even found in contempt of court for “willfully” ignoring court orders and held in a county jail for 6 hours. Divorces do not often bring out our inner-angels.”

But as with Mark Sanford’s struggles with divorce and custody, I don’t care about Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s travails in the same arena. It’s their private business that has little to nothing to do with how they will serve the Constitution and the voters of the South Carolina Lowcountry.

It’s obvious that the opponents of Sanford have nothing beyond slime-ridden, ill-gotten personal attacks to combat his stellar public voting record. None of the despicably leaked contents of the sealed family court records alter my opinion that Mark Sanford is by far the superior candidate to represent the Lowcountry. It does not shake my belief that I can count on him to vote to save America from debts and deficits and weak defenses. I will still vote for Mark Sanford for Congress on May 7, and I urge all other 1st District voters to do the same.

|Political Prudence

Why Mark Sanford Is the Right Choice for #SC1

All right. Let’s just jump straight to the main—seemingly only—argument against electing Mark Sanford: his affair. I’m not going to rehash all the details or make excuses for him. I was devastated. But the statehouse press conference where he stepped up to the plate and poured his heart out and out and out planted a kernel of forgiveness in my heart, because unlike other politicians that give a made-for-camera bite-the-lip-and-give-a-sniffle apology, I knew Mark Sanford was completely sincere and extremely humbled. No one could possibly have given that presser and been acting. It wasn’t typical politician.

I was willing to wait and see if his words of sincerity would translate into action—and what I saw was Sanford try to ease out of the limelight as much as possible, letting everyone take potshots at him unanswered, letting everyone vent their venom, anger and disappointment, as he went about what was important to him: trying to repair and resolve the relationships in his life out of public view. When he would emerge into the spotlight, however briefly, he would be asked the inevitable question about the affair, how could he have done it, and every time, he would answer anew with deep reflection, sincerity and humility—never lashing out at others or trying to make excuses, never acting like “c’mon, I’ve already answered this.” Time and again, his actions matched his words. Over time, I fully forgave him.

Here is a man that has had a very public fall from grace, such a spectacular fall and with such circumstances that I believe it was a once-in-a-lifetime screw-up. I actually trust that he has worked to put his life back together in a way that assures me it won’t happen again. He is ready to move on, and so am I along with a multitude of #SC1 voters.

While he has been a big enough man to bear all the slings and arrows hurled at him, he hasn’t been too big to still humble himself before us and ask for a second chance, in an extremely personal way. Mark Sanford needs us. He needs us to give him the chance to fully redeem himself, and I think that makes him even more beholden to us in a deep, almost spiritual way. I believe he has something to prove to us now, to make things as right as he can possibly make them in this lifetime. We could be vindictive and withhold redemption from him, make it so that no amount of effort to regain our trust would ever be good enough, but I don’t think his sin comes anywhere close to deserving that punishment. I’m willing to give him the chance to go the next step and make amends to us, because South Carolina’s 1st district needs him. America needs him.

Now let me tell you why.

The Sanford Record

Mark Sanford is the fiscal conservative’s fiscal conservative. He was Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. Outside of his fall from grace, Sanford had a stellar record of public service.

When he was in Congress from 1995 to 2001, he actually returned a quarter of a million dollars to the US Treasury every year, which he had personally slashed out of his Congressional office’s operating budget. This was money allocated to him, approved by voters to spend, but he took it upon himself to protect the voters further, pinching every penny and looking after voter wallets.

This attitude was also reflected in his Congressional voting record, making him ranked as the most fiscally conservative member of Congress by both Citizens Against Government Waste and the National Taxpayers Union.

Then, as a two-term Governor of South Carolina, when Obama came to office and was shoveling our money out of the doors of the White House, Sanford was the first governor to reject the stimulus money–$700 million of it. This is important not only because he was standing on his fiscal conservatism principles (and withstanding the onslaught of leftist and media howling), but by his very act of stepping forward and having the courage to lead on it, other governors around the country were emboldened to follow his lead, to compete to see who could be declared the most fiscally conservative of the fiscal conservatives.

Wouldn’t it be a great thing to have that repeated over and again in Washington–contests to see who can spend less instead of the quest, even by Republicans, to spend more? It takes bold leadership, someone that can withstand the pressure to cave, to do this. It’s something Bostic has no record of doing, and no record of even claiming to be interested in doing it. (His campaign mantra has become “Sometimes you just have to say yes” as they jeeringly call Sanford “Mr. No.” When it comes to the insatiable appetite that Congress has for spending our grandchildren’s tax dollars and Chinese loans, I want Mr. No casting my vote any day.)

And Sanford is not afraid to take on his own party. While Boehner and the House leadership keep telling us that they’ll get us a better deal next time every time they cave, Sanford is one that won’t cave. The Republican-dominated South Carolina legislature and he had some mighty famous battles, with Sanford constantly vetoing their spending bills and forcing them to override them to pry the money out of the SC coffers. (Understand that and you’ll understand the background of the trumped-up “ethics charges” his opponents love to tout.)

He made the GOP majority squeal with indignation when he brought two little piglets, Pork and Barrel, into the statehouse to bring attention to their spending spree. We NEED more politicians with the guts to stop the spending in opposition to their party’s good old boy backscratching system.

Due to Sanford’s storybook record of reigning in state spending, the CATO Institute ranked him as the most fiscally conservative governor in America. (Can Bostic come anywhere close to these prestigious accolades? No.)

And the Tea Party needs Sanford in their ranks. Not only because he would be a solid vote with them, if not a leader. They have had difficulty in getting leadership to go their way, mainly because so many are freshmen and sophomore backbenchers. Sanford, however, by virtue of his previous three terms in the US House of Representatives will immediately reenter Congress with seniority over nearly 60% of his colleagues. He will be hard to ignore, and in a position to press the Tea Party perspective.

The Bostic Record

Personal injury lawyer Bostic presents himself as a Christian family man. I believe him. Most of Bostic’s support is coming from the extreme-wing of the religious right, whose sole focus is on Sanford’s divorce with much less concern about spending reductions and liberty issues. In fact, their tactics have been cause for alarm by some, including the leader of a local Tea Party group. (As noted in today’s Morning Jolt from Jim Geraghty at National Review, Bostic describes himself as a creationist, but declines to elaborate on how he defines that. If some GOP are worried about Sanford being promoted to the general election because of the national media jokes about the Appalachian Trail, just wait till they sink their teeth in on creationism.)

As you can tell from the above, I’ll leave people’s faiths to themselves. My focus is on our country’s debt and spending, and it is in those areas that things give me pause with Bostic.

First, while Bostic served on Charleston County Council from 2000 to 2008, its spending increased 25%–significantly outpacing inflation and population increase. Bostic argues that Charleston County voters themselves voted for the increase. I reply, yes, but he went along with it and voted for every single big-spending budget. He championed no cost-cutting measures, and some complain that he even added in projects such as the long-running I-526 extension boondoggle without subjecting it to voter comment or diverted tax revenues to his own pet projects, such as the Greenbelt Plan.

Taking the spending thing further, Bostic refused to sign a pledge to reduce federal spending—even though most of the other candidates in the primary signed it. It was just him, the Democrat general election candidate Elizabeth Colbert-Busch and two other small percentage voter getters that spurned the pledge. Bostic and Sanford both signed Grover Norquist’s ATR pledge to not raise taxes, and that’s a good thing, but we are drowning in debt. We must reduce spending if we are to save America. Our spending is unsustainable, and it should have been an easy thing to pledge to do.

Bostic has also refused to timely file his FEC disclosure form indicating the amount and sources of his income. He has filed for an extension that will put this knowledge out of reach for the runoff Republican voters but will be laid bare for general election purposes. How do voters know what’s in it, especially since he deems it too complicated for his CPAs and law firm to be able to figure out? What kinds of nasty surprises await us? Both Sanford and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Colbert-Busch managed to get their forms in on time.

Finally, the most disturbing thing is that Bostic has repeatedly canceled or refused to appear in debates and forums before conservative, libertarian and Tea Party groups. It’s quite troubling that Bostic had to be dragged to have a one-on-one conversation with Sanford on the issues facing South Carolina’s 1st District and America.

During his eight years on Charleston County Council, Bostic also missed an average of 20% of its twice-monthly meetings. The Bostic campaign took great offense to Sanford’s noting this during their first one-on-one debate, with Bostic saying that his wife suffered from cancer twice during his tenure, implying he had to miss county business in order to tend to her needs. Quite understandable, of course.

However, the SC Patch looked into a sampling of Bostic’s attendance records and found:

Patch reviewed the minutes from 11 of the meetings during Bostic’s time on council. Those minutes are attached to this article. On nine occasions he was either was out of state, out of the country or out of town. On two occasions his absence was unexplained.

His attendance ranges from 67 percent in 2005 to 93 percent in 2001. Most years on council it ranged around 80 percent.

When another media outlet asked the Bostic campaign to confirm the absences were directly related to Mrs. Bostic’s illness, they declined to respond. The Huffington Post also notes that the indignant tweets that his son, actor Daniel Bostic, tweeted after the debate (and served as fodder for various right-wing blog attacks on Sanford) have since been deleted.

North Charleston Patch added that his son, Daniel Bostic, tweeted: “Not gonna lie – I’m still infuriated over Sanford attacking my dad for missing council when my mom was dying.” As of Friday afternoon, the tweet was no longer on Daniel Bostic’s account.

The broad picture here is that Bostic has left the #SC1 voters with many questions: on his finances, on the issues, his beliefs and principles, on whether he can withstand the withering attacks that would come his way should he advance to the general election. He’s asking us to just blindly trust him. Bostic’s record is full of secrets. With Sanford, we know all his secrets.

On top of that, Bostic has a history of not showing up, and when he has shown up, he has voted for bigger budgets and said he would support background check gun legislation and a Constitutional amendment to make traditional marriage the law of the land (does he really believe that, with some states already approving gay marriage, an amendment could ever get ratified? or does he just think it sounds pretty to low-info voters?). Worst of all, he’s said he wants to be non-partisan and work across the aisle.

If he’s been so fearful to let the voters see how his positions contrast with Sanford’s, how will he stand up to politicians in Washington that are going to want him to just shut up, sit down and vote the way they tell him to?

We know Sanford will have the fortitude to stand up for us, against both Democrats and Republicans. He’s been there in the heat and glitz of Washington; he knows the games played and how not to get played. This is no time to be sending a rookie in during the middle of the game. We need someone that can be a strong voice, have some seniority and lead others to vote the right way.

The Closing Argument

There’s an old story about the 1884 presidential race between anti-corruption fiscal-conservative New York Governor Grover Cleveland and the Republican Senator from Maine, James G. Blaine. Blaine made his status as a devoted family man a centerpiece in his campaign, and his campaign had the dirt on Cleveland and an illegitimate child Grover had fathered out-of-wedlock years before but had supported financially.

The Blaine campaign taunted him with the slogan “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House. Ha, ha, ha.” The scandal was embarrassing indeed.

Yet, when it came to soberly assessing the race with logic instead of emotion, one observer noted (as related in Irving Copi’s classic text Introduction to Logic):

Since Cleveland has a terrific public record but a blemished private life, and Blaine has a storybook private life but a checkered public record, why not put them both where they perform best—return Blaine to private life and keep Cleveland in public life.

I couldn’t say it better myself. Put Sanford where we know he’ll do a stellar job. Return Sanford to Congress.


|Political Prudence

Out-of-State Hacks Resort to Documentable Lies to Try to Ding Sanford in #SC1 Race

The lousy reporting on the congressional race in South Carolina’s 1st District for the seat vacated by Tim Scott (whom Governor Nikki Haley named to replace Senator Jim DeMint, who retired to head the Heritage Foundation) has reached a nadir of facts and truthfulness. In place of honest reporting, national audiences are treated to half-truths, innuendos and outright lies. Reporters and bloggers that have little knowledge of South Carolina politics or Lowcountry issues repeatedly pop off with downright laughably misconstrued “facts” to arrive at opinions that have little basis in reality.

Let’s take just one example to illustrate my point. From the illustrious Slate Magazine, we have king of the Journolist, Dave Weigel, doing his darnedest to tear down Mark Sanford’s whopping 53 to 40 lead over challenger Curtis Bostic.

Here’s the opening paragraph to Weigel’s gem of corrupt, lying propaganda:

Last night, the two Republican contenders for South Carolina’s open House seat finally debated one-on-one. Mark Sanford hadn’t bothered to attend every primary debate. He had a clear path to a runoff berth, and he eventually won 37 percent of the vote as a team of munchkins split the rest. But Curtis Bostic, the conservative former Charleston councilman who eked into the runoff, had worked all of the GOP’s low-profile events and debates. He was tested, ready.

Pure baloney, from start to finish. One of the chief complaints against Bostic in #SC1 is that he has not been showing up to events, and has been refusing to debate. Mark Sanford has been at these events, eager to answer any and all questions. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the publicly available record (easily searchable by esteemed journolisters such as Weigel himself) at the Charleston daily newspaper, The Post and Courier. Here’s the newspaper’s archive search engine. (Unfortunately the search results use temporary one-time URLs, otherwise I would provide convenient links to each article for you.)

Regarding a candidate forum on February 12th before 150 members of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, just as the quick sprint race was starting, the paper notes: “16 of 20 candidates – from the Republican, Democratic and Green parties – sat elbow to elbow on a stage inside a Charleston hotel.” The paper reports what attendee Mark Sanford said about “the one issue where [the candidates] diverged the most,” immigration, especially on Lindsey Graham’s amnesty plan:

Former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford said he didn’t support the plan.

But we never got to hear the position Curtis “Sometimes You Have to Say Yes” Bostic took on Grahamnesty that day. Why? Because, as Weigel could have seen in the paper: “Those candidates who didn’t appear Tuesday include Sullivan’s Island businessman Keith Blandford, former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, state Rep. Peter McCoy and Democratic candidate Ben Frasier.”

Okay, maybe Weigel’s opening could have just been a minor error, if Sanford then hid the rest of the campaign, resting on his name recognition, as Weigel implies. But no. Let’s check in on the other two forums to see who was there. If you took Weigel at his word, I think you’ll be surprised:

In the Post and Courier story on March 1, regarding the forum attended by both candidates Sanford and Bostic, it was a good thing Bostic showed up because in the midst of much agreement by all 15 candidates there, “Only engineer Jeff King and former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic indicated clear support for instant background checks for gun purchases.” So if Bostic’s wildest dreams were realized and he made it to the floor of the US House, he would be Mr. Yes and vote with the Democrats against the NRA and Lowcountry gun owners.

Then we have the March 7th forum hosted by the Republican Liberty Caucus. Fifteen of the 16 GOP primary candidates appeared. Guess who showed up? Mark Sanford. Guess who didn’t? That’s right. “Only former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic did not appear.”

That was the last debate prior to last night’s post-primary debate. Clearly someone gave Weigel intentionally wrong facts that he lapped up without bothering to check, or he made them up out of whole cloth, weaving a little fantasy tale for low-information voters.

[Update 3/29/13 6:20pm: I forgot to mention that Bostic has also declined to participate in a couple other one-on-one post-primary debates, including a second one by the RLC.]

Now, let’s move down in Weigel’s piece of fiction. He rates Bostic’s performance as just “okay,” while noting Sanford’s was superior. But this is just the setup to smack Sanford down again:

He was okay. Sanford absolutely outplayed him. It took nearly an hour, past a long digression about whether the candidates should do a Lincoln-Douglas style debate (the primary is in four days!), for an audience member to ask about “the elephant in the room.”

“In 2009, you broke the trust of the people of South Carolina,” said the questioner. “How do you reconcile redemption with the costs of your personal decision, which could have compromised the state and/or the party?

I don’t know what debate Weigel watched, but it wasn’t the one last night at Porter-Gaud School, where moderator David Webb, not an audience member, asked Sanford the question, as noted by the Post and Courier, The State and local journalists on Twitter. (Oddly, Weigel still repeats Webb’s quote verbatim, while attributing it to someone else.)

He closes his short and bloody piece by bookending Sanford’s response with this:

This was a friendly way to ask the question. An unfriendly way might bring up the scandal (pretty much forgotten now) of South Carolina paying for Sanford trips that turned into trysts. But a “how can we trust you” question? Easy for Sanford.

Important question, and I suspect one that I’ll wrestle with at one level or another for the rest of my life. An old timer took me aside and said, you know, if you live long enough, you’re fonna fail at something. And I failed. I failed very publicly. But, you know, in the light of failure, you know, I guess you have a choice to make. This sermon, this Sunday, he said: Do the events of your life define or refine your life? And so, in the wake of my failure, you sort of push through to finish your term. I went down to our family farm, about an hour south of here, and I had an awfully quiet and very spiritual year. And to a degree I refined it. I wallowed in it. I struggled with it. And you go through this incredible soul-searching. You probably do more soul-searching on the way down than on the way up.

Well, of course you do! This string of Dale Carnegie blather got Sanford some mild applause.

One can only presume he’s being sarcastic with his parenthetical saying the Sanford scandal has been largely forgotten. Otherwise, he must be living on another planet.

But that last line of his post is the most preposterous. “Mild” applause. See, Weigel and company would prefer that Elizabeth Colbert-Busch face a weak, relatively unknown candidate (especially outside of Charleston County, and the congressional district spreads over five counties, from the upper reaches of Berkeley County down to near the Georgia line at Beaufort). But even they know that it is extremely unlikely that Bostic could win, so when it comes down to the one issue they can use against Sanford, they are desperate to hide the deep reservoir of forgiveness that Sanford has from Lowcountry voters, stemming not just from his past political record of service to them but in his humble approach to them since his fall.

How odd that local media (no cheering section for Sanford) found it worthy to note the rousing, loud, approving sustained applause that Sanford’s answer generated:

Even operatives from the Bostic camp noted their surprise at the applause.

There you have it. Four short paragraphs and two quotes, and Weigel gets it all wrong. Well, except for his assessment that Sanford outdebated Bostic. The rest is pure hackery and lies.

So if you read other similar tales of Sanford not giving it his all to reach out to voters or not getting a good reception in response, be very, very skeptical. Check to see if it’s written by anyone that knows South Carolina, the Lowcountry and its people. If not, they may just be weaving you a fairy tale to suit their political purposes.

Update 3/29/12 8:15pm: David Weigel has conceded that he made errors in his Slate article and says that he will make corrections. The Slate post currently reflects a very small, but still very wrong update, which Weigel tweeted to me that he had made “earlier” but took a long time to show up.

The current state of the Slate post:

Weigel's Initial Correction

In it, you’ll note that in the original post, he merely ripped out the second sentence that had said Sanford hadn’t shown up: “Mark Sanford hadn’t bothered to attend every primary debate.” As a result, his post now begins by only referring to Sanford as “he,” without saying who “he” is. [And he left in the sentence saying Bostic went to all of them.]

In his italicized update, Weigel says “Bostic, too, skipped forums,” still directly implying Sanford missed some (I’ve asked him to name which ones, as I am unaware of any). His clever wording also implies that Bostic showed up more often than not. He went to one, and skipped all the rest until last night.

Parts of my conversation with @DaveWeigel:

I’ll update more later as Weigel updates his post at Slate.

|Campaign 2012 | Political Prudence

NOTE On JustABlogger Electoral Votes Contest

I’ve had to temporarily disable the post that contains all of the #JustABlogger Electoral Votes Contest official entries because I’m having server issues and am having to test various things to locate the cause of the problem. That post contains over a hundred images, so it’s taxing the system while I’m testing.

I hope to have it back up shortly. I may divide it into multiple posts to allow for easier viewing too.

In the meantime, I’ll be back in a few minutes with a chart added here for you…if all goes well and I don’t accidentally take the whole site down again. *fingers crossed*

Here is a chart of all of the official entries, sorted according to Romney electoral vote estimates, in descending order.

EV Contest–sorted by EV

|Campaign 2012 | Political Prudence

#JustABlogger Electoral Votes Contest Official Entries

Below are the officially registered entries for the #JustABlogger Electoral Votes Contest. (For information on how you can enter and win, please click here. UPDATE: The entry deadline has now passed.) The entries are presented in their official forms, in the order in which they were submitted. Check back for new entries as they are added, and for a new post coming soon, which will sort the entries into table form for your convenient viewing.

UPDATE: The final electoral vote total of 2012 (not counting faithless electors or unexpectedly discovered warehouses stuffed with ballots) is 332 for Barack Obama and 206 for Mitt Romney. The closest entry in the #JustABlogger Electoral Votes Contest was submitted by Alex Moff (@alexmoff) with 305 for Obama and 233 for Romney. Congratulations, Alex. You may pick your prize.

→ Continue reading “#JustABlogger Electoral Votes Contest Official Entries

|Campaign 2012 | Political Prudence

Announcing: #JustABlogger Electoral Vote Contest! (*No blog necessary to enter)

Many of mainstream media pundits have gone on the record with their predictions on how many electoral votes Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will receive. The only problem is that the vast majority are picking Obama to win. Their exaggerated turn-out models tells them so. This is what happens when we leave it to the #RealJournalists (in the words of Juan Williams) to tell us what is going on.

From the ground level, from the people that aren’t creating turn-out models but actually turning out, it looks a whole lot different. Professor Glenn Reynolds, aka @Instapundit, has dubbed this the Ground-Glass Election (as in, we will crawl across ground glass to vote to evict Obama from the White House).

So here’s the opportunity for the #JustABlogger population*, the hoi polloi, to go on record and show the elite how it should be done…and you can win a prize while you’re at it.

Anyone but a #RealJournalist. Bloggers, tweeters, school kids, Walmart moms, Latinos with forks, cats with videos. Anyone!


  1. Go to and use their map tool to create your Electoral Vote (EV) map. [You are welcome to use other sites’ electoral map tools, if you prefer. I’ve just found this one easy.]
  2. Take a picture/screenshot of it and upload the picture to the photo service of your choice (such as, or
  3. Tweet @PruPaine a link to the photo, along with your tie-breaker prediction of the Popular Vote (PV) percentages Obama and Romney will receive.

Example: My contest entry submission tweet to @PruPaine would say…

@PruPaine #JustABlogger Contest Entry: EV–O 225, R 313 PV–O 47.57% R 52.16%

All entries must be tweeted to @PruPaine by 9pm EST on Monday, November 5, 2012. The final tie-breaker is based on whichever entry is received first, so enter early…but not often! (See Fine Print.)

All entries will be posted here at, linked to your Twitter handle. If you also have a blog and/or a post about your prediction, I’ll be happy to link to it as well. (Just include the link in your tweet, or send it to me when your post is up.)

Because of the fabulous prize! You can choose to receive one of the following (in either Kindle or print):

The winner will be the contestant whose prediction comes closest to the actual electoral vote (EV) outcome of the 2012 United States presidential election. If the winning EV total was submitted by more than one contestant, the winner will be the contestant who correctly predicted the outcome of the most states. A tie in the number of correctly predicted states will go to the contestant who comes closest to predicting the popular vote percentages for each candidate (to two decimal places). If a tie still exists, the earliest submitted tying entry will be the winner.

Void where prohibited by law. One entry per person. Not responsible for lost, spindled or mutilated entries. Entries will not be returned. Consumption may cause racing pulse and increased levels of optimism. No need to see your doctor if this condition persists.

So far, nearly all the #JustABlogger entries are indicating a Romney win. A new post will be started soon to show the entries received.

When you submit your map, you’ll get a tweet letting you know you are officially entered, or that there is a missing component to your entry. Your entry hasn’t been registered in the contest until you get a “you’re entered” tweet. If you don’t receive a reply tweet within an hour or two, feel free to ask if it has been accepted.

Note: Retweets of other persons’ entries do not constitute a separate entry.

And thanks to @DanRiehl for the post.

Thanks also to Smitty of and RD Brewer of AceOfSpadesHQ for the write-ups of the contest on their sites.

And thanks to Stacy McCain for mentioning it in his posts at the AmericanSpectator and, of course, TheOtherMcCain.

Y’all have rocking readers. Thanks for sending them my way for the contest.

SUMMARY: Now that the deadline has passed, nearly 90 entries have been checked in and are being posted online here.

|Campaign 2012 | Political Prudence

#LadySmarts for Romney

Here’s two great videos heading to the final showdown next week.

First up, a quick response to anyone in favor of the Obama administration’s shredding of the First Amendment’s freedom of religion in forcing religious groups to offer products and services that are morally opposed by that religion:

The 15-second video was produced by the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ Campaign for Religious Liberty. Follow them on twitter @archstl. (If you want to email the video to friends or family, the YouTube link is

Then there’s a parody of the Obama campaign video by actress Lena Dunham, in which she told young women that voting for Obama is like having sex for the first time…and that it’s uncool not to do it. Here’s Julie Borowski’s spot-on impersonation of it:

Follow @JulieBorowski on Twitter, and her YouTube channel TokenLibertarianGirl for more fun videos.


|Campaign 2012 | Political Prudence

Joe Kennedy III Says a Drone Killed Bin Laden and Other Notes on the Sean Bielat Race

In the race to fill the Massachusetts 4th Congressional seat being vacated by Barney Frank (D-MA), trust fund Democrat Joe Kennedy III is pitting his name, inexperience and ignorance against Marine and small businessman Sean Bielat.

So far, Kennedy has had problems in knowing that Jerusalem (not Tel Aviv, as he proclaimed) is the capital of Israel. Nor could he name a current military program that he wishes to cut, despite that being a primary area he’d like to slash in the federal budget. (The two programs he did name are either nonexistent or already cut.)

But his utter lack of fundamental knowledge in all things foreign policy and military defense became crystal clear in a recent debate at Wellesley College. A man in the audience asks Kennedy whether he supports the drone program. His jaw-dropping response is, “I am a supporter of the President’s drone initiatives. I am a supporter of certainly the strike that the President launched to, that ended up in the killing of Osama bin Laden.”

[The clip cuts off quickly, but Kennedy doesn’t attempt to correct his reply. For those thinking it is impossible that he simply misspoke, the entire question and Kennedy response is at the end of this clip, and Bielat’s response to the question is at the beginning of this clip.]

It’s no wonder that Kennedy wants to dodge the issues when he’s just running on his name. Catch the clip from the Today show here where they follow Kennedy to knock on voters’ doors. The woman can’t get out her entire question before he interrupts her to inform her his grandfather was Robert Kennedy:

Bielat makes an excellent point, in that the trust fund kid is utterly unqualified for a Congressional seat.

In a conference call, Bielat and his senior media consultant Sarah Rumpf said the campaign’s internal polling has been showing Kennedy’s numbers as steadily declining, noting that even among those that support Kennedy, one-half of them say they are not sure about him.

Rumpf offered other anecdotal evidence that Kennedy’s leading, but diminishing, support is soft by noting that Scott Brown for Senate signs tend to have a Sean for Congress sign next to it, but the Elizabeth Warren for Senate signs often stand alone.

The campaign has also found that when they approach supposedly committed Kennedy voters and provide them with information on Bielat’s positions, the voters are frequently willing to switch their position.

The campaign is feeling very optimistic about their chances, if they can just reach enough voters in time. “Not only is it winnable,” said Bielat, “but we will win this race.”

But the thing that will help Bielat the most is a campaign contribution. He’d like to raise $500,000 more to pound the airwaves in Boston this week. (He is already on air in the Providence media market.) His internal polling indicates that they have significantly closed the gap, and a blast of ads could push him to victory.

Go here to view the Final Surge video (with great tidbits such as Joe Kennedy the Third has only worked 27 months in his entire life, and up until 10 months ago, he was still living with his mother). That’s where you can contribute to the campaign as well, or visit for more information on keeping this House seat Kennedy-free.

For a bit of fun, Bielat’s campaign has put together a clever website illustrating the banality of the Kennedy campaign through a “Kardashian or Kennedy: Guess Who Sent the Tweet” quiz.

But don’t forget to donate. RealClearPolitics has Massachusetts’ 6th District as leaning Democratic, with the Republican 6 points ahead, and now there’s talk that Patrick Kennedy’s old Rhode Island seat could go Republican this year. Let’s get them talking about the Mass 4th District too.


|Campaign 2012 | Political Prudence

The President Mocks Our Horse-Mounted Soldiers

In the final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season, President Barack Obama tried to score points by lampooning Governor Mitt Romney’s criticism that under the Obama administration, our US Navy had fallen to levels not seen since 1916.

In doing so, Obama sneered that we don’t have many bayonets or horses in the military either because times change.

Yet, our Marines are indeed equipped with bayonets. And the soldiers serving in Afghanistan use military horses.

In fact, Vice President Joe Biden was in New York City at Ground Zero for the dedication ceremony for a statue heralding the proud service of our horse-mounted soldiers.

A NY1 story, “Horse Soldiers Statue Rededicated At WTC Site,” reports:

A statue honoring soldiers who served in Afghanistan on horseback was rededicated Friday at the World Trade Center site. The 16-foot-tall Special Operations Horse Soldiers statue, located on Greenwich Street near the Path Station, commemorates when U.S. Special Operations team members rode horses into combat during the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Riding with and advising Northern Alliance warlords fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda on steep terrain in Northern Afghanistan, it was the first time U.S. troops rode horses in a military operation since 1942.

“Having the terrorist attacks here, bringing this back home, it’s priceless, words can’t describe the pride and honor we all feel,” said U.S. Army “Horse Soldier” Master Sergeant Michael Elmore.

“Only one had ever been on a horse in his life. He is a no kidding cowboy. The other men had never been on a horse. In the spirit of great Special Forces guys they adapted and began to conduct a horse-mounted operation with their Afghan counterparts,” said Special Operations Deputy Commanding General Lieutenant General John Mulholland Jr.

The statue was made possible by private donations, with $750,000 raised in six weeks.

“Mulholland and his guys would never ask for anything and that’s the beauty of it. They’re the quiet professionals so we wanted to do something to recognize them and all those who went and served to fight the battle of 9/11,” said Constellations Group CEO Bill White.

“The message is that military service to your country is an honorable thing,” said Sculptor Douwe Blumberg.

Among those on hand for the ceremony was Johnny Spann, whose son Mike was the first American to die during the invasion while working with the CIA.

“Hopefully the dedication of this Horse Soldier Monument will make people more aware and maybe they will get interested in reading about it or whatever. It’s a part of our history, and it’s important people know exactly what took place,” Spann said.

The statue was first dedicated by Vice President Joe Biden on Veteran’s Day.

During the debate, Obama also noted that he’d been at Ground Zero. Apparently he paid no attention to the statue there. Or perhaps he walked by it and just laughed at how preposterous he thought it was—just like he did in the debate.

It’s even odder to know that celebrity-obsessed Obama didn’t know about the horse soldiers because Hollywood knows. According to a special report at the Daily Caller, “Secret Mission: The Horse Soldiers of 9/11,” “producer Jerry Bruckheimer is producing a future movie about America’s ‘Horse Soldiers.'”

The Daily Caller story begins:

It was the news the world breathlessly waited for immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks: a report of the first American troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

All at once the world’s attention focused on an iconic photo of those Special Operations Forces doing something no American military had done in nearly a century: They rode horses into combat.

Their secret mission: secure northern Afghanistan by advising the warring tribal factions that formed the Northern Alliance. During the 2011 Veterans Day Parade on November 11, a new monument to these men — and to all Americans in uniform — made its way down New York City’s famed Fifth Avenue on the way to its final home, a stone’s throw from Ground Zero.

What a fascinating, uplifting story. One that our President should never belittle with derision dripping from his lips to score political points. In trying to make Romney look small, he mocked our heroes.

And in doing so, he proved he is a very small man with a large ignorance of military equipment.

(hat tip to @LifeOnAHorse for alerting me to the statue story. Follow the retired Navy man. And thanks to @MissSaraEliza for alerting me to the Daily Caller story.)

UPDATE: @AnthonyBialy tweeted a story he found on the Fort Bragg, NC, training center for the horses. The post, “Military Mounts at Fort Bragg,” notes:

The rocky terrain found in remote areas of Afghanistan isn’t easy to traverse, even by jeep. Native horses become a mode of transportation. Pack animals, especially donkeys, also become familiar partners. For some of America’s elite troops, however, knowledge of horses and their four-legged relatives isn’t familiar territory. The first time they actually halter a horse, saddle it and ride it may be at Smith Lake Stables.

“That’s why the only horses we get, that the government buys, are what we call dead broke,” Rossignol says. “We can’t afford to have anyone get hurt.”

But there’s more to it than just learning about tacking up and riding a horse, Rossignol says. The troops also learn herd management and how to treat common equine health issues affecting equines.

“We teach them about anatomy and basic vet care,” he says. “That’s because many times these troops are working with the local people.”

That’s one side of the Special Forces that isn’t often seen by the Americans at home. In order to establish a good rapport with an agrarian or nomadic society, a Special Forces member might offer to help care for sick or injured animals owned by local peoples. It’s all part of spreading goodwill.

Yet despite the benefits of maintaining a select group of horses for military training, the horses associated with Fort Bragg have faced some budget cuts. Land originally used for pasture was deemed too valuable for grazing, and horses were moved from the actual military base to their current home at Smith Lake Stables, a few miles away.