Top Ten Problems in South Carolina Lindsey Graham should worry more about than Benghazi

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) slammed President Obama for a deterioration in US security because, he said, of four Americans having been killed in Benghazi last September and then another four at the Boston Marathon. If we were not convinced that such allegations are mere political posturing, we’d have to think he is exhibiting signs of paranoid schizophrenia. There isn’t actually a link between Libya and Boston, and while 8 lives are precious, they don’t signal that the country is going down the hill.

It is one of the annoyances of American politics that Graham, who represents a little over 2 million people, gets a national voice similar to that of Diane Feinstein, who represents 19 million.

Graham is numbers-challenged if he thinks Americans have gotten more endangered by terrorism domestically and abroad since Obama was elected. He keeps forgetting the nearly 3000 killed on 9/11 on George W. Bush’s watch, and after Bush had been warned by US intelligence of a planned al-Qaeda strike inside this country. The toll of American civilians killed by terrorists abroad during George W. Bush’s second term was 56 in 2005, 28 in 2006, 17 in 2007, and 33 in 2008. In Obama’s first two years, the toll abroad was 9 and 15, respectively, much less than Bush’s averages. Domestic terrorism has taken an increased number of lives under Obama, but the majority of Americans killed in such actions are killed by white supremacists, about whom Sen. Graham doesn’t seem exercised.

There is as much reason to think that Wade Page, the racist Wisconsin shooter who killed 5 American Sikhs and one policeman, was part of a hate network as that the Tsarnaev brothers were. Page was certainly political. His reaction to Obama’s election was “stand and fight.” Does Sen. Graham have so little to say about Page because too many of his own constituents might harbor similar sentiments?

While Graham is showboating about things he knows absolutely nothing about, such as the political landscape in Benghazi, Libya (can he name a single member of its elected city council?), his own state is not doing very well. Let us consider the sorts of ills a sitting senator from South Carolina should be trying to remedy in his state:

1. South Carolina was the third most violent state in the union in 2012, including crimes against both persons and property.

2. The murder rate was 320 in 2012, very high for such a small state (4.7 million), which works out to a rate substantially higher than the national norm. A lot of those murders are committed with guns, but of course Graham is against doing anything about that.

3. South Carolina’s rate of violent assault in 2012 was almost twice that of the rest of the country.

4. South Carolina’s property crime rate in 2012 was the highest in the nation. it has an amazing number of cat burglars.

5. More than 1/6 of South Carolinians lack so much as a high school education, the 10th worst performance in the country.

6. About 19% of South Carolinians live below the poverty line, nearly 1 in 5, the 9th worst such statistic of the 50 states. Hmmm. I wonder if some of those people address their hunger by becoming . . . cat burglars.

7. The life expectancy in South Carolina is only about 76, five years less than in Obama’s Hawaii, and 4 years less than Minnesota. South Carolina is in the bottom fifth of states for life expectancy. It is about the same size, population-wise, as New Zealand, where the life expectancy is … 80. South Carolina on this statistic is in the general company of Albania, Barbados and Mexico. Hawaii is up there with Hong Kong and Switzerland. Doesn’t Graham wake up ashamed about this every day? No. He wants to abolish Obamacare, which has a chance of making things better for people in his state, about whom he apparently cares less than about people in Benghazi.

Deaths per 100,000 by state

8. 18% of South Carolinians are food insecure, i.e. they barely can afford enough to eat each week, and are one unpaid sick day away from going to bed hungry. The rate of food insecurity in the US as a whole is about 15%, so in SC it is worse.

9. South Carolina has 21 extremist hate groups, a very high number for such a small state. And, of course, they are armed.

10. Unemployment is still 8.4 % in South Carolina, though there has been some improvement. This rate is high considering what a wonderful senator they have, who has done so much to attract professionals to the state and expand its tourism by making an attractive image of it. (Expanding white collar jobs and tourism are the growth sectors). Nebraska, Vermont (socialist Senator), Hawaii (Obama birthplace; yes), Virginia and Minnesota are all doing much better. South Carolina, as in many things, is 10th from the bottom in employment.

Wouldn’t an ambitious senator want his state to have the most long-lived, best educated, best employed, healthiest, least hungry, and least violent people in the nation? If those were Lindsey Graham’s ambitions, he would have way too much work to do to worry every day about events last year in Libya. But actually, there isn’t any particular evidence that he cares that his state is at the bottom on so many important indices.

By the way, I love South Carolina. I love the people, the food, the folkways, the lovely countryside. I just think it is a shame that that they don’t have a better political class, who would actually serve their interests instead of serving the interests of a narrow sliver of cranky rich white people. Graham isn’t, of course, the worst of them. But he has weird priorities and is a warmonger, and he doesn’t seem to me to have improved the lives of most of his constituents in any obvious way.

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19 Responses

  1. Actually, Benghazi seems a lot more worrying and important than any of these points, legitimate as they may be.

    • The cover-up in Benghazi was the role of the CIA. They controlled American activity in Benghazi. It took them 25 minutes to get from their compound to the consulate under attack. By focusing on Susan Rice’s comments, the Republicans have deflected attention from real problems.

    • Can you ARTICULATE a single reason why? If so, please do. If not, stfu.

  2. The neocon fascination with Benghazi has always been very strange from any rational perspective. Apparently they really are desperate to tie Obama to any kind of deterioration in “national security,” so-called.

    The conversation on the transformation from American empire to globalized/localized democracy really needs to get seriously started, however apparently no one anywhere is ready to get serious about it. The latest computer games and movies will always have much more interest.

    The transformation we need is not helped by the fact nearly all national governments including America’s, are absolute obstacles to any kind of meaningful localized democracy, or any kind of peace, progress, transparency, honesty or necessary change.

    • I think that the points raised by Juan should answer your question. The fact of the matter is that some parts of our country are populated inordinately by people with lower education levels, on average, than others, and have a greater rate of general violence than most of the country. South Carolina is one such place.

      What sort of person do such regions send to office, then?

  3. Sen Graham is only, truly, concerned about getting his goverment check, his Federal Retirement Pension check & using those funds to pay his interior decorator bills. He’ll live off the $$ he earns as a lobbyist while his Federal Pension Health Care is paid for by the US taxpayers.

    Hey did anyone note that none of the above stats were addressed during the CSPAN aired debate between Sanford & Colbert’s kid sis? Makes yme think that South Carolina is a state plantation where they raise po trash as a crop.

  4. South Carolina has been of interest to me for quite a while, stimulated by Mr Graham’s activity in the U.S. Government and the position of power he has sought or acquired. I first recall him during his participation in the House of Representatives’ impeachment proceedings against Bill Jeff Blythe IV Clinton somewhere back around 1998. At the time, I listened to Mr Graham’s statements during a hearing and thought it appropriate to write a little note to him, sharing my thoughts. In short, I suggested to him that getting all riled up about the issue was not much different than being on a South Carolina beach in a vehicle and then trying to get off of the sandy surface by revving the engine and spinning one’s tires to the point of only getting dug in more deeply the harder one tried to extricate one’s self.
    What I was ignoring was who Mr Graham was talking and answering to when he was performing his duties as a Representative. Since then, I have used South Carolina as a kind of benchmark in my readings and studies, one that puts the state at the bottom of the lists when compiling significant data, just as Mr Cole has done in his article above. But: I always keep in mind the people who make up the voting age population in South Carolina and what they represent … or, in many cases, resent, given that they were at the forefront of a civil war some years ago, one that was not decided in their favour.
    One area on which I have focused all the while has been education, beginning with high school graduation. Over the years, South Carolina’s graduation rate has improved but was dismal for many years, reported in 2005 to be 55.6% which is a vast improvement over 2001 when it was 50.8%.*
    That statistic tells us that almost 1 in 2 people couldn’t handle four years of academic preparation, sufficient even enough to join the American military. In recent years, this number has improved. In 2010, the rate was reported as slightly over 72%, much better than years before.** Still, 28% of the applicable population is still below the standard required for upward progress.
    Another interesting feature of South Carolina is its acceptability as the location for a group known as “Christian Exodus,” ‘founded in November of 2003 in response to the moral degeneration of American culture, and the rampant corruption among the powers that be.’^ Now, I am all for supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and the freedoms guaranteed thereunder. Yet, one has to wonder ‘why’ South Carolina was chosen as the promised land for fundamentalists. I will let the organisation do its own justification but they do state that ‘Christian Exodus members who have moved to the area appreciate the culture, climate, and lower cost of living.’^^
    Mr Graham comes from this state. As a native, he knows the demographics and what appeals to the people who will vote for him at election time. Thus, he is able to tune his message to be most pleasant to those whose ears are listening. But, I wonder about all of those people who will never achieve the lofty heights that he has, beginning with being a high school graduate followed by obtaining a college degree before passing the bar, using his professional degree to obtain commission in the U.S. Air Force.
    Does the climate and culture preferred by the fundamentally religious include having a pool of people who are denied the same levels of educational equality found in other states, making them more susceptible to accepting a ‘Kingdom’ and becoming its obliging serfs? How will being unable to achieve the most basic level of education allow them to pursue goals of eradicating the woes having befallen the state of South Carolina as a whole? How is it that leaders elected from there can presume to have answers to national and international issues?

    * link to
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  5. Deeply embedded once again in Redstateland, as I am, within earshot of relatives who hail from said regions, I realize that Juan’s arguments are doomed to fall on deaf ears. The politics that fuel the energies of Lindsay Graham and even worse exemplars like Ted Cruz are built on resentments and prejudices that are impervious to reasoned argument. It is a Foxnewsworld of permanent Kulturkampf and political paranoia, dressed up as American patriotism.

  6. As a lifelong South Carolinian who left the Republican party when an illiterate warmonger named GW Bush began two senseless wars that have only served to weaken our country. I especially detest Lindsey Graham’s poodle like persona when he is around neocons like Joe Lieberman.He is their “Useful Idiot.”

    A few months ago Graham made a tone deaf statement to a war weary county…”I think we should stay in Afghanistan until we get it right!” Really? Get what right? Until Afghanistan is indistinguishable from Switzerland?

    To accentuate your point Dr. Cole, one of the oldest ports in South Carolina, Georgetown, has turned away job producing industries because the port needs eleven million dollars to deepen the shipping lane. Dredging would allow ocean going vessels to pick up exports manufactured in and around the lowcounty. Graham says there is no money to dredge the port but then says we should be pouring billions into Afghanistan. In other words…his own constituents can eat cake.

  7. (in your best Lindsay Graham, sleepy-eyed drawl)
    Are we gunna sit bah and let sum Ivy League academic and his radical community organizer pals insult the god-fearin’, freedom-lovin’, 2nd amendment protectin’ people of the beautiful state of South Carolina while the brave men and women of the armed forces lie exposed on our battlefronts because of the callous disregard shown by an administration that all they care about is takin’ away yo guns and forcin’ you to purchase expensive Socialist healthcare and apologizin’ for the greatest country the world has ever known? Would Ronald Reagan bow to a Saudi Prince or some dictator? NoSir. And that Hilary Clinton might as well a dug the graves in advance fuh those heroes of Benghazi who didn’t stand a chance against terr-ists cuz she was off at sum glitzy party with prob’ly Hollywood millionaires or sumpt’n when she shoulda been keepin’ watch over the selfless Americans who she tosses wrecklessly into harm’s way without even a care for their safety or their honest, hard-workin’ families. When I think of the sacrifices our soldiers make every single day so the Democrats in Congress can maintain the big guv’ment welfare state, I pray to the good lord above for more decent American patriots like my friend Senator John McCain who kept the faith by sneakin’ a peek at Old Glory he had tucked up inside his raggedy POW shirt. The communists tried every thing in their power to beat him down through torture and compel him to reject the United States of America. But Lieutenant Commander McCain held firm to his principles and his belief in god as we South Carolinians must do in the face of this smear campaign of uppity hate against our people whose ancestors rejected the tyranny of a corrupt monarch and declared themselves a republic. I will fight for you, South Carolina, because you are in my heart when i go to bed each and every night and when I wake up and have my coffee and plan my press conferences. Today I will announce hearings to investigate this here Professor Juan Cole — I don’t like the sound of that name, by the way — to determine the truth behind allegations that he’s mixed up in sumpt’n or othah.

  8. Very nice essay,whose timing is excellent in view of what has been showcased recently in our national politics around guns, bombs, violence, and deaths vis a vis regulation v. non-regulation, meaningful government v. lack of government.

  9. This was a very thoughtful essay, if damning. Knowing that urbanization is a large factor in crime, I did a quick comparison of violent crime rate and percent urbanized. Being from NC, something stood out to me: while NC and SC have virtually identical percentages of urbanization (60%), SC has a 60% higher violent crime rate. If you did an analysis of variance and put the data into a US map, I think SC would stand out from its neighbors even more radically.

  10. “5. More than 1/6 of South Carolinians lack so much as a high school education, the 10th worst performance in the country.”

    This probably helps to explain why South Carolinians elect people like Graham and DeMint.

    What Graham should really worry about is being the type of person he is that includes being a warmonger.

  11. Graham is a small fish in a very big neoconservative pond. If the neocons get war in Iran like they did in Iraq, it won’t be because of some little Xtian in South Carolina.

  12. Our numbers show that he is a strong candidate for the GOP nomination in 2016. Wait, our numbers; who am I kidding, never mind.

  13. Bush’s attorney general, Ashcroft, did not want to hear about terrorism before 9-11-01. So what were the feds doing in the earlier months of Bush’s term? One thing they were into was harassing pornographers. A porn producer in the San Fernando Valley (the porn capital at the time) told me that the porn companies were all being raided frequently before 9-11.

    • Ashcroft continued to be obsessed with breasts even after 9/11/01. In January 2002, the statue of Lady Justice was clothed in drapes fo that Ashroft would not be photographed in front of a semi-clothed statue.

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