The cyclops Polyphemus is perhaps the most famous villain in the ancient epic The Odyssey. He’s a giant, rude and violent ogre with one eye, and he could very well be the death of the hero and his companions.
Let me recount the tale for you, and as I do, keep in mind, there’s a newfangled version of it playing out in the GOP primary right now—although we don’t know yet whether, at this pivotal moment, our modern warriors will take the same actions to free themselves or will be gobbled up. (I’ve put our contemporary cast of characters at the bottom of this post, and linked them in the story as footnotes for your convenience.)
The Tale of Polyphemus
On their long, horrible voyage trying to get back home1 from the Trojan war, Odysseus2 and his dwindling band of men3 land on the island of the creatures known as the cyclops. The men are in need of food supplies. A scavenger group leaves their battered ship and comes upon a cave stocked with sheep and milk and cheese. Before they gather up the groceries, however, the hulking cave dweller comes home. It’s Polyphemus4. He’s hideous.
Now in ancient Greece, hospitality was highly prized. If someone showed up to your party without an invite, you were still expected to offer them all the best you had, no questions asked—at least until the stranger had his fill of your wine and roasted meat and perhaps a nap. To do otherwise was gauche.
But Polyphemus wasn’t much for hospitality. In fact, he did the most ill-mannered thing possible. Instead of offering a meal, he snatched up a couple of Odysseus’ men, bashed their heads in and made a meal of them instead.
Unfortunately for the rest of the guests, when Polyphemus came in, he had rolled a massive boulder in front of the cave door. There was to be no escape for Odysseus and his men. The cyclops was going to simply eat them, two by two, until there were none left.
So our conquering hero devises a plan. They must attack Polyphemus, but they don’t want to kill him, because they need him to open the door for them. It’s the only way they can all get out. (Even with their combined strength, the Odysseus crew cannot budge the boulder. They are trapped inside the nightmarish hovel.)
The next morning, Polyphemus awakes and breakfasts on two more of Odysseus’ men. They are frantic with fear. But they watch as Polyphemus rolls the boulder out of the way to let his giant sheep5 out before sealing the door shut again to keep his remaining human quarry inside.
Aha! The best way out is to pretend to be sheep going out to pasture in the morning. But even with just one eye, Polyphemus will be able to see that they aren’t giant sheep. They need to blind him. So they find a giant timber, work one end into a sharp point and stash it away until the opportunity to use it arises.
Polyphemus comes home that night from a day in the fields and feasts on another pair of men. It’s time, urgent time, to put the plan into action.
Odysseus had brought along some undiluted potent wine on their scavenger trip, so he offers the wine to Polyphemus as a gift to wash down his revolting dinner. The cyclops enjoys the wine and actually becomes a little friendly with Odysseus, asking what his name is. Odysseus replies, “Nobody.”
Once Polyphemus passes out, the hero and his men retrieve the hidden timber and harden its point in the fire until it becomes a red-hot poker. Then they muster all their strength, surround the cyclops and plunge the fiery stick into his sleeping eye.
The plan could have all gone awry then, when the neighborhood cyclops6 hear Polyphemus screaming bloody murder. They rush to the boulder at the cave door and ask, “What’s going on in there?” Polyphemus cries out, “Nobody is stabbing me in the eye! Nobody is stabbing me!” The other cyclops all shake their heads and laugh. What a loon that guy in there is, they think, and they leave.
When the blinded cyclops passes out again, Odysseus ties each of his men to the belly of sheep, and in the morning, Polyphemus rolls the boulder out of the way and blindly feels the top of each departing animal to make sure it’s a sheep and not a man.
Once all the men have escaped, they race back to the boat. Their party can set sail and leave the cyclops behind, taking his sheep with them. Phew!
But that’s when Odysseus’ pride takes over, though. He can’t leave well enough alone and be satisfied they had escaped with their lives. When they sail past the blinded Polyphemus, the hero wants his name to be known. He can’t resist letting Polyphemus know that it wasn’t Nobody that defeated him. It was Odysseus!
Bad move. The ancient Greeks disliked hubris, and it turns out that Polyphemus’ father was the powerful god of the sea, Poseidon, who soon takes revenge on the men for his crippled son. But that’s another story. One that the GOP will preferably avoid, happy instead to just be sailing off towards home.
2 Odysseus Ted Cruz, of course, in my version, but feel free to make whatever candidate you like to be the hero of the tale. He crafts the plan and executes it, even when lesser men are going weak in the knees. ↩Return to Tale
3 The men The other candidates beyond our hero. It takes all the men to pitch in to defeat Polyphemus. There’s no one hanging back in the corner, thinking he’ll wait it out until all the other guys get eaten and then somehow escape on his own. No, cowards die. There will be no “kleos,” no glory if you don’t get in there and fight. ↩Return to Tale
4 Polyphemus Donald Trump, blustering, boorish, nasty and vicious. Doesn’t have great depth perception of what policies it will take to Make America Great Again. More of a monovision type of guy. Limited, but gets the job done. ↩Return to Tale
5 The sheep The voters that the cyclops shepherds. We need them to escape with the candidates. ↩Return to Tale
6 The other cyclops The media and entertainment wing. They’ll laugh now, write it up later. They are excited about the fabulous ratings, clicks and cocktail party invitations the latest news of that wacky Polyphemus will bring them. ↩Return to Tale
Fast Forward to Texas Debate Night
Men have been eaten. Their bones litter the stage. Each candidate has a collection of shivs carefully prepared by their staff. There’s not many left to have the combined strength to climb up on Polyphemus and incapacitate him!
But wait. What’s this? Oddly, some of the men seem to be eyeing the other men, looking to take down the hero. Oh no. What foolishness is afoot.
Will they come to their senses and free themselves and the cyclops’ voters in time?
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.
THE DIGITAL MANIFESTATION OF THINK PROGRESS’ HALLUCINATIONS
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.
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.
THE HANDING OFF TO THE MEDIA FLOCK
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!!”
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.)
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.
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.
JEB’S FLAT FEET GET CROPPED OUT OF PHOTO
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.
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?
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:
Jeb Bush has a photoshopped photo for an ad which gives him a black left hand and much different looking body. Jeb just can’t get it right! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2015
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 sealeddivorce 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. Breitbart.com 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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Sanford gets rousing applause for answer to trust question. #sc01debate
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.
@prupaine Corrected that earlier today, took a while to show up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
WHO CAN ENTER
Anyone but a #RealJournalist. Bloggers, tweeters, school kids, Walmart moms, Latinos with forks, cats with videos. Anyone!
WHAT TO DO
Go to RealClearPolitics.com 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.]
Take a picture/screenshot of it and upload the picture to the photo service of your choice (such as Twitpic.com, Yfrog.com or Instagram.com).
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…
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 PrudencePaine.com, 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):
or a book from the Prudy personal library (I’ve got lots of books on the disaster that Obama has been!).
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.
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:
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:
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 SeanForCongress.com for more information on keeping this House seat Kennedy-free.
For a bit of fun, Bielat’s campaign has put together a clever website KardashianOrKennedy.com illustrating the banality of the Kennedy campaign through a “Kardashian or Kennedy: Guess Who Sent the Tweet” quiz.