New Yorker: Something to Benghazi Coverup

It’s a cliché, of course, but it really is true: in Washington, every scandal has a crime and a coverup. The ongoing debate about the attack on the United States facility in Benghazi where four Americans were killed, and the Obama Administration’s response to it, is no exception. For a long time, it seemed like the idea of a coverup was just a Republican obsession. But now there is something to it.

On Friday, ABC News’s Jonathan Karl revealed the details of the editing process for the C.I.A.’s talking points about the attack, including the edits themselves and some of the reasons a State Department spokeswoman gave for requesting those edits. It’s striking to see the twelve different iterations that the talking points went through before they were released to Congress and to United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who used them in Sunday show appearances that became a central focus of Republicans’ criticism of the Administration’s public response to the attacks. Over the course of about twenty-four hours, the remarks evolved from something specific and fairly detailed into a bland, vague mush.

From the very beginning of the editing process, the talking points contained the erroneous assertion that the attack was “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved.” That’s an important fact, because the right has always criticized the Administration based on the suggestion that the C.I.A. and the State Department, contrary to what they said, knew that the attack was not spontaneous and not an outgrowth of a demonstration. But everything else about the changes that were made is problematic. The initial draft revealed by Karl mentions “at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi” before the one in which four Americans were killed. That’s not in the final version. Nor is this: “[W]e do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” That was replaced by the more tepid “There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.” (Even if we accept the argument that State wanted to be sure that extremists were involved, and that they could be linked to Al Qaeda, before saying so with any level of certainty—which is reasonable and supported by evidence from Karl’s reporting—that doesn’t fully explain these changes away.)

Democrats will argue that the editing process wasn’t motivated by a desire to protect Obama’s record on fighting Al Qaeda in the run-up to the 2012 election. They have a point; based on what we’ve seen from Karl’s report, the process that went into creating and then changing the talking points seems to have been driven in large measure by two parts of the government—C.I.A. and State—trying to make sure the blame for the attacks and the failure to protect American personnel in Benghazi fell on the other guy.

But the mere existence of the edits—whatever the motivation for them—seriously undermines the White House’s credibility on this issue. This past November (after Election Day), White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”

Remarkably, Carney is sticking with that line even now. In his regular press briefing on Friday afternoon (a briefing that was delayed several times, presumably in part so the White House could get its spin in order, but also so that it could hold a secretive pre-briefing briefing with select members of the White House press corps), he said:

The only edit made by the White House or the State Department to those talking points generated by the C.I.A. was a change from referring to the facility that was attacked in Benghazi from “consulate,” because it was not a consulate, to “diplomatic post”… it was a matter of non-substantive factual correction. But there was a process leading up to that that involved inputs from a lot of agencies, as is always the case in a situation like this and is always appropriate.

This is an incredible thing for Carney to be saying. He’s playing semantic games, telling a roomful of journalists that the definition of editing we’ve all been using is wrong, that the only thing that matters is who’s actually working the keyboard. It’s not quite re-defining the word “is,” or the phrase “sexual relations,” but it’s not all that far off, either.


AnMed's Annual Teddy Bear Checkup Tomorrow

Teddy bears and other stuffed animals are invited to receive a free check-up tomorrow at the 7th annual AnMed Health Teddy Bear Clinic. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon outside AnMed Health Women’s and Children’s Hospital at 2000 E. Greenville St. in Anderson.  

The Teddy Bear Clinic familiarizes children with hospital personnel and medical equipment by treating stuffed animals for common injuries and ailments. Upon arrival, each stuffed animal is receives a hospital identification band. Kids then take their stuffed animals through a series of screenings and procedures. This includes measuring their weight, height and blood pressure as well as getting an x-ray.

During the event, children can also meet MedShore’s Andy the Ambulance and visit with police and firemen.

The Teddy Bear Clinic is a free event designed for children from 4 to 10 years old. All children must be accompanied by an adult and should bring their own teddy bear or stuffed animal. 

The event will be held rain or shine. In the case of rain, the Teddy Bear Clinic will be moved inside. For more information, parents can call 864.512.4670.


Relay for Life May 17 at Westside

The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life of Anderson County will be May 17 from 7pm to 1am at Westside High School. Free admission, food, prizes, dancing, fundraising and fun for the whole family.
The event will support for anyone who has been affected by cancer. Please visit http://www.relayforlife.org/andersonsc to see volunteer opportunities orr Call 1-800-227-2345 for information. The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is an event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.



County Oks Reconsideration, Settlement Motions in Preston Case

On Thursday night, Anderson County Council voted 6-1 to approve a motion for reconsideration to Judge Roger Couch considering the county’s recent loss on all counts in the lawsuit against former Administrator Joey Preston. 

The vote was immediately followed by a unanimously approved second motion by Councilman Tommy Dunn giving Anderson County Attorney Mike Pitts authority to meet with respective legal counsel to consider settlement issues with Preston. The motions came after a 50-minute executive session session, which council convened following citizen comments concerning the case.  

Sixteen citizens spoke on the issue, with nine asking council to drop all action and let the judge’s ruling in the Preston case stand.

“This is a poor business decision, let’s don’t spend any more money,” said Anderson businessman and long-time civic leader Cordes Seabrook, who jokingly identified himself as a long-term unemployed citizen.  Others suggested the county should never give up their pursuit of overturning the ruling which favored Preston.

The motions filed Thursday night could either be seen as a formal move toward closing the case, or a way to revisit legal action, depending on who you ask.  

A motion for reconsideration or motion to reconsider is a legal filing which someone can make to ask a court to review a decision and consider issuing a new decision in light of the review. A motion for reconsideration is not an appeal; filing an appeal is a more involved process. The success rate of this type of motion is quite variable, depending on the specifics of the case, the judge, and the legal norms in the region where the case was tried.

There are some restrictions on a motion for reconsideration. The motion must be filed within 20 days of the contested ruling or filing, and in some cases the limit may be only 10 days. In addition, it must be filed with the judge responsible for the issue for which reconsideration is being requested. The motion for consideration is designed to allow people a chance to quickly correct a legal decision, not to launch a complex appeal process.

When a motion for consideration is filed, the person doing the filing must provide supporting material to argue in defense of the motion. People can't simply ask a judge to reconsider, they must demonstrate that the judge made a decision without all the facts or that a decision appears to have been wanton or malicious in nature. One reason to file such a motion might be the discovery of new evidence after a decision was made, or a revelation that the judge did not have access to all the evidence.

If a judge grants a motion for reconsideration, the matter will be reconsidered and a new judgment will be issued. Once the reconsideration is over, there are other options for contesting a judgment which is believed to be unfair or unreasonable, including filing an appeal. The options available depend on the court where the case was tried and the nature of the case, and people should be aware that continuing to pursue a case can be a costly choice.


Flour Foundation Donates $1.5 Million to Clemson

Fluor Corporation announced today that its philanthropic organization, the Fluor Foundation, presented Clemson University a $1.5 million gift to create the Fluor-Clemson International Capital Projects Supply Chain Partnership endowment. This new partnership expands the scope and global geographic reach of previous Fluor-Clemson initiatives to support education, applied research and industry outreach for the capital project supply chain.

The new gift will fund additional applied research in broader global geographic areas of the world including India, China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. Clemson’s international Master of Engineering program in capital project supply chain and logistics within the industrial engineering department will benefit from the increased global reach by the addition of region-specific content to the curriculum and attracting a more diverse student population.

“The importance of the global supply chain has increased exponentially for engineering, procurement and construction companies since Fluor and Clemson first established the Fluor Endowed Chair of Supply Chain and Logistics at Clemson in 2007,” said David Seaton, chairman and CEO of Fluor Corporation, who also serves as chairman of the Fluor Foundation. “Six years later, with Fluor’s annual global procurement spend of $19 billion and with a majority of our project backlog overseas, this international expansion of the supply chain and logistics program is paramount for developing supply chain leaders of the future in our industry.”



Bipartisan Senate Bill a Direct Threat to Wall Street Bankers

Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and David (R-LA) have presented a bill that is going to keep Wall Street bankers up at night — the "Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness" Act. The acronym for that is TBTF — see what they did there?

The two Senators have been working together to figure out how to end Too Big To Fail for weeks now. Last month, they both presented on this topic on the Senate floor, and announced that they were working on legislation inspired by former FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bear.

Now it's here.

So what's in it? To put it simply, loads of capital requirements. meaning that banks will have to hold more high-quality capital the bigger they get. The bill points out that "U.S. banks’ assets have grown from 20 percent of GDP to 100 percent of GDP, while their capital ratios declined from about 25 percent to around 5 percent of total assets."

That means raising cash by any means necessary — selling off assets, cutting staff (and Wall Street has seen a lot of that), etc.

Here's the break down of how much money everyone will need to raise and how:

  • Community, regional and mid-sized will have to keep $1 in equity for every $8-$10 in assets.
  • Wall Street's megabanks will have to keep $1 for every $15 in assets. 
  • This cash has to be real shareholder equity too — no "goodwill" or anything intangible like that.
  • And these ratios will be based on a bank's total assets — none of this "risk weighted" calculation stuff that, the bill writes, has let big banks shrink assets on their balance sheets 46%-48%. Brown and Vitter want this to replace Basel 3 capital requirements, and they want it to be simple.
  • Subsidiaries and affiliates of banks will have to be separately capitalized.
  • And no special Fed treatment (read: subsidy) for non-depository banks:

    "The Federal Reserve and other banking regulators will be prohibited from allowing non-depositories access to Federal Reserve discount window lending, deposit insurance, and other federal support programs. This will help reduce market expectations of financial assistance for megabanks."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/vitter-brown-too-big-to-fail-bill-2013-4#ixzz2Spb88anC


S.C. Lottery Profits Greater than Expected

South Carolina's economic advisers say the state lottery is generating more profits than expected, allowing legislators to designate more money to school buses, libraries and scholarships.

The Board of Economic Advisors revised its estimates Wednesday for lottery revenue. Advisers expects an additional $27 million to be collected this fiscal year and an extra $7 million in the year that starts July 1.

State law limits lottery profits to college scholarships, public libraries and some kindergarten-through-12th-grade programs, including transportation.

State Superintendent Mick Zais has asked legislators throughout the budget process to put more money toward purchasing new school buses.

The board's revised estimate comes a week before senators debate its budget plan for 2013-14 on the chamber floor.

Advisers did not alter their earlier estimates from other revenue sources.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Economic-advisers-SC-lottery-revenue-is-up-4502989.php#ixzz2SpOG0HPP


Huff Post: No Serious Primary Challengers Yet for Graham

In 2010, as the tea party was arriving on the political scene, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the movement would "die out."

"The problem with the tea party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country," Graham said in a New York Times Magazine profile.

He continued to criticize the tea party into 2011 for not having a more constructive attitude, but also began to reach out to other Republican senators who arrived in 2010 with the support of the conservative grassroots movement, like Kentucky's Rand Paul and Utah's Mike Lee.

Yet Graham has also clashed with those two, and with newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has quickly become a strong ally of Paul and Lee. One of their biggest disagreements is over foreign policy, where Graham -- along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) -- favors a more interventionist role for the U.S. than do the tea party senators.

Graham took a shot at Cruz just last Friday, watching the freshman senator speak to a state GOP dinner in Columbia, S.C. He told HuffPost immediately afterward that Cruz has "got to prove to the country, and to people in Texas ... that he can, you know, throw a punch and also solve a problem."

National tea-party types are still calling for Graham's scalp as the senator gears up for a 2014 reelection campaign.

"He's begging for a primary,” Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, told ABC News & Yahoo's TopLine on Wednesday.

And in South Carolina, anti-Graham forces tried, unsuccessfully, to change the nominating process from a primary to a convention. The latter format would allow the nomination to be driven more by the hard-core activists within the GOP, and would give them a better shot at unseating Graham.

Graham has drawn one Republican challenger so far, upstate businessman Richard Cash, and there are two others said to be leaning toward a run as well: state Sen. Lee Bright (Spartanburg), and Charleston businesswoman Nancy Mace. But the consensus among South Carolina Republicans is that all are long shots.

"None of the three have a great shot but Bright has some name ID and support," said Jonathan Hoffman, who was one of 16 Republicans, including former Gov. Mark Sanford, who ran in the Republican primary to fill the 1st District's congressional seat.

Political consultant and activist Drew McKissick said Cash's ground game in the 3rd Congressional District, where he was runner-up in a 2010 primary runoff, is "probably [the] best anyone's seen in years," but added, "that was just the 3rd [Congressional District]."

"No credible person seems to be getting in line. It's a little hard to believe," one South Carolina GOP operative said on background.

Full Story Here


WS Opinion: S.C. Resolution Doesn't Nullify Obamacare

“South Carolina has passed a bill that criminalizes the implementation of Obama’s health care law reform law,” said HuffPost Live host Jacob Soboroff last week. The claim, from the Huffington Post and others, is that South Carolina is attempting to “nullify” Obamacare. But what the Republican-dominated South Carolina state house passed on May 1 doesn’t really nullify anything--not yet, at least. The legislation is more like a resolution, asserting that the state of South Carolina opposes the unconstitutional parts of Obamacare.

Nevertheless, the Republicans who drafted the bill seemed to have wanted to convey that nullification is exactly what they are doing. Here’s the bill’s introduction:

A bill to amend the code of laws of South Carolina, 1976, so as to enact the "South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act" by adding Article 21 to Chapter 71, Title 38 so as to render null and void certain unconstitutional laws enacted by the Congress of the United States taking control over the health insurance industry and mandating that individuals purchase health insurance under threat of penalty; to prohibit certain individuals from enforcing or attempting to enforce such unconstitutional laws; and to establish criminal penalties and civil liability for violating this article. 

The the truth is that the enforceable provisions of the bill in its current form don’t render the law "null and void." As Section 2 of the bill reads, “No agency of the State, officer or employee of this State, acting on behalf of the state, may engage in an activity that aids any agency in the enforcement of those provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and any subsequent federal act that amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 that exceed the authority of the United States Constitution.” 

The problem is, the bill doesn’t specify what parts of Obamacare “exceed the authority” of the Constitution. Instead, it says that the general assembly has “the absolute and sovereign authority to interpose and refuse to enforce the provisions” of Obamacare that exceed Congress’s authority. The bill's chief sponsor, Republican Bill Chumley, says the bill "will do what it says" and allow the general assembly in the future to bar the state of South Carolina from enacting the unconstitutional elements of Obamacare. What elements would those be?

"We're going to take it on a case-by-case basis," Chumley told THE WEEKLY STANDARD, adding that the legislature would possibly have to pass additional laws in order to stop the implementation of Obamacare's unconstitutional provisions. He did not name any specific parts of the federal law that are unconstitutional and said the bill is chiefly defining the state's position on Obamacare.

"Some people have said it sounds more like a resolution," Chumley said.

Of course, nullification of a federal law by a state is illegal under the courts’ interpretation of the Constitution’s supremacy clause. It stands to reason that if South Carolina ever passed such a law, the courts would strike it down. Chumley disagrees with that interpretation, saying that the supremacy of federal law over state law only applies when those federal laws are constitutional.

"Has the Constitution been changed?" Chumley said.

According to the South Carolina Policy Council, a conservative think tank in Columbia, the provision giving “absolute and sovereign authority” to the general assembly would have one important consequence: It would take away from the executive branch the authority to, say, refuse the federal money earmarked for expanding Medicaid under a provision of Obamacare and give that authority exclusively to the legislature. The state’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, has said she opposes this Medicaid expansion. The GOP also controls both houses of the general assembly. 

Full Story Here


Stool Pigeon Headlines Downtown Block Party Tonight

Stool Pigeon will perform tonight at the Piedmont Natural Gas Downtown Block Party at 6 p.m. in downtown Anderson. Coming events include:

May 23 – Jack Roper and the Weatherman Band

May 30 – Eric Scott Band



City to Dedicate Linley Park Beautification Project June 4

The Linley Park Stormwater Project is complete. The drainage system and multi-use path were completed in December 2012, and crews recently finished landscaping and lighting work.

The completed project provides functional stormwater conveyance, greenspace enhancements, and integrated trails and pedestrian uses within a highly visible 14-acre neighborhood park. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. June 4 at the North Ave./James St. Intersection.

Contact the Public Works Division at 864-231-2246 for more information.


S.C. Oks New Contract for Medal of Honor Museum

The state of South Carolina has approved a 99-year, $1-a-year lease for property for a new $100 million Medal of Honor Museum. The Budget and Control Board approved the arrangement Wednesday.

The Medal of Honor Museum Foundation will lease seven acres at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime on Charleston Harbor.

Last year the foundation announced plans for the museum on high ground at Patriots Point where the World War II aircraft carrier USS Yorktown is moored. The museum will honor the recipients of the nation's highest award for valor.

Plans announced last summer envision a uniform collection, a large format theater with multiple video screens and a hall honoring medal recipients.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/99-year-lease-approved-for-Medal-of-Honor-museum-4502024.php#ixzz2SoZioN2R


Make Memories, Not Movies at Concerts (Thank Me Later)

Local music guru Dustin Owens brings his spin on the local, regional and national music scene each week in the Anderson Observer. His radio program/podcast "Left of the Dial," airs weeknights on WRIX-FM 103.1 and can be streamed anytime.

By Dustin Owens

A few days back I was surfing YouTube and came across a homemade video of the best concert I have ever seen.  The show was from the 2008 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN.  I remember a lot of buzz surrounded that festival, rumors of a Led Zeppelin reunion, people pumped to see bands ranging from legendary acts, like Pearl Jam and Metallica, to indie heroes in their prime, including My MorningJacket and The Raconteurs.  There were even some personal bucket list acts on the bill in Levon Helm, B.B. King, and Solomon Burke.  The show was destined to be etched in my memory forever.  Still, I severely underestimated the magnitude of the overall musical experience.

We spent four days in the sweltering heat and three nights sleeping in the dirt - blisters on our feet and grass stains on our pants - in dire need of a shower and a home cooked meal, living and breathing Rock & Roll.  It was terrific.  I had my mind blown by bands that weren't on my radar, I was disappointed by some of my heroes, I missed out on some bands I have grown to love, and somewhere along the way I decided Tom Waits was going to be there.

I was on a huge Tom Waits kick leading up to the festival, and the reclusive songwriter had just gone on tour around the Southeastern United States.  Every show sold out within minutes, and I wasn't lucky enough to purchase a ticket.  Nothing was more exciting to me in the world at the time than the prospect of a Tom Waits appearance.  One of the first bands I saw at the festival, I honestly don't remember who, played a Tom Waits cover.  It made my night.  Then Solomon Burke played a Tom Waits tune.  I was awestruck.  Then Allison Krauss, Robert Plant, and T-Bone Burnett covered Tom Waits, and I decided it had to be more than coincidence.

Full Column Here