Politics

Palmetto Political Stock Index – 4/22/2024

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It was another big week for South Carolina politics as a Lowcountry race took center stage, a powerful Palmetto State politician vowed retribution and Washington’s highest-ranking “Republican” found himself on the cusp of possibly being ousted.

We also saw the Fourth Amendment effectively neutered, U.S. taxpayers subjected to yet another costly boondoggle and government-subsidized media exposed as exactly what it is: Woke propaganda.

Over the past year, our founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell have been monitoring political developments in South Carolina and beyond via our Palmetto Political Stock Index.  With the ‘First in the South’ presidential primary season now in the rearview, our index is focusing more intently on statewide developments.

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As previously noted, each installment is an assessment of how our subjects fared over the previous week. Positive reports don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones aren’t (necessarily) indicative of vendettas. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em.

To view the most recent index, click here. And to get your historical fix, click here.

Got a hot “stock tip” for our consideration? Email Will (here) and/ or Mark (here). Just make sure to include “Palmetto Political Stock Index” in the subject line.

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CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARIES

STOCK: RISING

It was long thought the Adam MorganWilliam Timmons‘ Republican primary race in the socially conservative Upstate fourth congressional district would be the South Carolina election to watch this cycle – and it certainly hasn’t disappointed. But the race for the first congressional district in the South Carolina Lowcountry is giving it a run for its money.

Former S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) chief and failed gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton dominated the headlines all last week – and not in a good way. It all started when news broke on this site that her 18-year-old son ,Brooks Templeton, had been arrested and charged with first-degree assault and battery.

Personal family matters should typically remain off-limits in political races. But Brooks Templeton was also a paid Templeton campaign worker (at least prior to being swiftly terminated in the aftermath of his arrest. His mother’s team did itself no favors by telling The (Charleston, S.C.) Post Courier it would “not comment on a legal matter regarding a high school fight.” This attempt to make the incident sound like a schoolyard tussle over lunch money fell apart when it was later learned the victim in the attack was hurt so badly he had to go to the hospital and suffered four seizures.

This website called on Templeton to do the right thing and drop out of the race to focus on her family. As of press time, there was no indication she would heed that suggestion.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for incumbent congresswoman Nancy Mace, either. Word came last week that a group called American Prosperity Alliance planned to spend nearly $750,000 on ads attacking three members of congress who voted to oust former House speaker Kevin McCarthy last year. Mace is one of the targets (along with Virginia’s Bob Good and Eli Crane of Arizona). She also received current speaker Mike Johnson’s endorsement last week, which she promptly repaid by deserting him on a major House vote. (More on that in a minute).

One voter summed it up this way: “The choice boils down between one candidate whose family life is made for Court TV and another who bragged at the National Prayer Breakfast how her fiancé wanted a quickie before the event. Some choice.”

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MURRELL SMITH

STOCK: FALLING

Hell hath no fury like a South Carolina legislative leader scorned. And Murrell Smith is making no bones about being scornful in return.

Smith suffered a one-two legislative gut punch last week. First, the S.C. Senate slammed the brakes on Smith’s signature achievement, the South Carolina Energy Security Act. This legislation – which we reported on here – is Smith’s baby. He shepherded it through the House and was poised to declare victory when it was roadblocked by the Senate.

Senators say publicly the behemoth bill (all 45,000 words of it) is just too big to get the close scrutiny it deserves in the session’s closing weeks. Privately, though, the fingerprints of multiple well-heeled special interests are all over the impasse.

Smith suffered another stinging rebuke in his own chamber when the House rejected the speaker-backed nomination of James Smith for circuit judge. James Smith was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2018 and led the minority party in the House for many years. In 2024, speaker Smith tried to use his Republican supermajority to put this partisan Democrat on the bench.

But the 17-member South Carolina Freedom Caucus led a revolt, and James Smith’s nomination was soundly rejected – leaving GOP leaders with serious egg on their faces.

Now, Murrell Smith is vowing retribution. Like a mafia boss whose edicts have been defied, he’s settling scores with a vengeance. Multiple sources tell us Smith is letting it be known to both the Senate and the Freedom Caucus that their legislative priorities are dead for the rest of this session.

To put it another way: “Do what Murrell says, and nobody gets hurt.”

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MIKE JOHNSON

STOCK: FALLING

The other House speaker – the one on Capitol Hill in Washington – is officially in a serious jam.

The House approved a massive $95.3 billion foreign aid bundle on Saturday. That Santa’s gift bag includes $60.8 billion for Ukraine, $26.4 billion for Israel, and even $8.1 billion for little Taiwan. Notably missing: funding for increased security at the southern border with Mexico.

South Carolina’s Jim Clyburn and Joe Wilson voted for it; Jeff Duncan, Russell Fry, Nancy Mace, Ralph Norman, and William Timmons voted against it. It’s not just that the package was approved in a lopsided 311-112 vote; it was how it was approved. And more specially, who made approval possible.

Democrats passed this bill. Their support won the day for “Republican” speaker Mike Johnson. Only 101 of the “aye” votes came from Republicans. The minority party crossed over to save the GOP leader’s bacon … giving president Joe Biden a big win in the process.

But the vote also crossed a red line with House conservatives. Representatives Majorie Taylor Green, Thomas Massie, and Paul Gosar are pushing a motion to vacate (or remove speaker Johnson from his leadership post). The foreign aid bill passage means it’s now a matter of when, not if, they move for a vote on it.

Should Johnson face a vote challenging him as speaker, would Democrats ride to his rescue once again to keep the gavel in his hand? After this latest $95.3 billion spending spree and his successful effort to raise the debt ceiling in order to keep the red ink flowing, a more accurate question would be, why wouldn’t they?

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WARRENTLESS WIRETAPPING

STOCK: RISING

As if the foreign policy boondoggle weren’t bad enough, conservatives are also seething over the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s (FISA) section 702 – which permits warrantless spying on Americans. They wanted an amendment protecting the Fourth Amendment freedom ostensibly enjoyed by American citizens – an amendment requiring the federal government to first get a warrant before collecting and analyzing data gathered by Washington’s snoops. The Biden administration objected – insisting section 702 be renewed without change.

And guess what: Big Government got just what it wanted. 

Every one of South Carolina’s House members voted for the amendment, which ultimately failed. Joe Wilson was the only Republican who voted for the bill’s final passage.

How has FISA been abused over the years? How much time do you have?

Trump 2016 campaign members, Black Lives Matter protestors, January 6 U.S. Capitol rioters, and even a state judge and U.S. senator have been victimized using this legal vehicle.

Still worse, Big Tech is siding with Big Government to expand FISA’s reach even further.

Doubtless George Orwell is looking down and saying, “Told you.”

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KENNEDYS VS KENNEDY

Robert F Kennedy Jr.

STOCK: RISING

Irish eyes certainly weren’t smiling Thursday. Some 15 members of the famously tight-knit Kennedy clan got together and endorsed—Joe Biden. It was an intentional slap in the face of their relative Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who’s waging an independent presidential run. Six of Kennedy’s own siblings sided with Biden. Ouch! 

While they avoided mentioning their bro and cuz by name, Kerry Kennedy stated “there are only two candidates with a chance of winning,” just to make sure nobody missed the point.

The group endorsement is much more than a family squabble gone public. It reveals the White House is seriously worried about how big of a bite the anti-vax activist could take out of  Biden’s vote count come election day.

The family’s support is the fruit of Biden’s relentless courting of Camelot’s heirs. Just last month, he posed at the White House in a group photo featuring some 60 Kennedy relatives, a mass display of red hair, squint-eyed grins, and glaringly white teeth. Last Thursday’s Kennedy conclave was their way of saying, “Thanks, Joe.”

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MALE ATHLETES IN WOMEN’S SPORTS

STOCK: FALLING

The not-so-satirical website The Babylon Bee has a knack for getting to the heart of a matter with its humorous headlines. Consider this from last week: “Biden Says When It Comes To College Women’s Sports, ‘May The Best Man Win.’”

That sums up Joe Biden’s revised Title IX regulations. The Left claims the change is needed to protect the myriad identities included within the alphabet soup called LGBTQ+. Yet what the revision fails to do is protect female athletes from competing against biological males.

The woke/ progressive crowd that is Biden’s political base (and which must be catered to all costs in order to secure their votes in November) views the world through the prism of oppressed and oppressor. For years, it put women in the oppressed column and lobbied for feminist causes. Now, though, a new and even more oppressed group caught its eye. When progressives met transgendered people, they fell in love at first sight, and their devotion to the women’s movement was dropped like a hot potato.

Progressives now champion biological males who play make-believe – and are applying maximum political muscle to make sure Biden gives them what they want. Nothing will stand in their way – even if it means denying young women who’ve trained for many years the level playing field Title IX was created to give them.

Fundamental fairness (to say nothing of self-evident truth) has been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency – and an entire generation of American girls will suffer as a result.

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NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

STOCK: FALLING

For 53 years, listeners have heard announcers intone, “This … is NPR,” thanks to the exceedingly generous perpetual infusion of your tax dollars. Now, the network dubbed “Radio Managua” during the 1980s and 1990s (when the radical Leftist Sandinistas ruled Nicaragua with Marxist ferocity) finds itself under intense scrutiny.

Indiana Republican Congressman Jim Banks introduced a bill last week to stop federal funds from flowing to National Public Radio.

It all started when NPR editor Uri Berliner published a piece exposing its blatantly liberal bias. For example, he noted that the network’s D.C. bureau (NPR’s nerve center) employed 87 registered Democrats – and zero Republicans.

That’s right, zero.

As a result, Berliner argued, not only is journalistic objectivity dead there, but it no longer bothers pretending otherwise. NPR is now cheerleader-in-chief for a parade of Left-of-center sacred cow causes and issues.

How did NRP react to Berliner’s expose? By displaying the same charity that’s the hallmark of the Tolerant Left. It suspended him. Whereupon Berlin quit after 25 years (and multiple prestigious broadcasting awards) with the network, saying in a fiery farewell shared on X (formerly Twitter), “I cannot work in a newsroom where I am disparaged by a new CEO whose divisive views confirm the very problems at NPR I cited in my essay.”

That new CEO is Katherine Maher, who took the helm last month. Besides calling Donald Trump a “racist” in 2018 and publicly rooting for Joe Biden in 2020, her most disturbing statement described the First Amendment as “the number one challenge” to fighting “misinformation” (AKA any view that disagrees with the Left).

Jim Banks summarized his bill (the Defund NPR Act) with this line: “Congress must stop spending other people’s hard-earned money on low-grade propaganda.”

NPR rather disingenuously claims only one percent of its funding comes from federal money. In reality, it relies on a complex shell game where its parent Corporation for Public Broadcasting serves as the bagman, and then directs the money back to NPR through roundabout means. 

This is still America, after all, and like any other broadcaster, NPR should be free to carry whatever content it wishes, even when it lunges to the Left. But a working-class family in, say, Anderson, S.C., shouldn’t be expected to help foot the bill for it, either.

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