Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Legislators Meet with German Parlimentarian

Representatives Jeff Duncan and Mike Pitts met today with Thomas Silberhorn, Member of German Bundestag.

Topics ranged from Mr. Silberhorn's life outside of politics (he is an attorney) to European Union Trade, Energy and the possibility of Turkey entering the EU. It was a tremendous experience and I was surprised at the amount of time Mr. Silberhorn spent talking with the Trade Mission group from South Carolina. He has previously been to the US and to Greenville with BMW. His District is the Bamburg area of Bavaria and is close to the BMW operation.

In addition to meeting with the Member, the group was able to tour the Budestag and discuss the differences of Parlimentary procedures in the US vs. Germany. For instance - on a recorded vote, the members must exit the chamber and then return via doors marked "Ja" for yes or "Nien" for no. Each member is counted as they enter the room by the appropriate door. There is also a door for abstaining from the vote. A physical act to record the vote was most interesting.

We will attend the Hannover Trade Fair on Wednesday/Thursday (Europe's largest Trade Fair) where we will meet with industry of different sorts to discuss South Carolina's business climate.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Trade Mission to Germany

Representatives Duncan & Pitts in Germany to recruit business and industry:

In an effort to assist the South Carolina Department of Commerce with industry recruitment, Representative Jeff Duncan (R - Laurens/Newberry Cos.) and Representative Mike Pitts (R - Laurens/Greenwood Cos.) made a commitment to travel to Germany on the 2008 Trade Mission.

Monday's agenda includes meeting with Koeber, a German company which recently announced a strong investment in Laurens County. Following that meeting, the group, which includes Dr. Jay West from Greenwood County and Edward B. O'Donnell, former US Ambassador and current Director for International Operations for the American Business Development Group, will meet with prospective German Companies in Berlin.

After two days in Berlin, the Trade Mission will move to Hannover, Germany for the Hannover Trade Fair, the largest trade fair in Europe.

Jeff's Notes: I want to specifically mention the work that SC Commerce has done to put this trip together and the outstanding work that Ian Forbes-Jones, Managing Director of the SC European Office, along with the Asst. Director - John Stilwell, are doing in Europe. In just a short time, it was apparent to the Trade Mission delegates that these two are doing a fantastic job for the state of South Carolina!

With the strength of the EURO against the DOLLAR, now is the time for South Carolina to really be recruiting European industry. I wish more were in attendance with us here in Germany, but aside from that - I look forward to making a positive impact on SC economic development efforts here.

For the Pundits out there: No State dollars were involved in our travels to Europe.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Obama on Guns

This is just a quick post on Obama's anti-gun stance - contrary to what some groups are saying about this aspiring Presidential candidate - his record is pretty clear as "Anti-gun"

Hunters and shooters group says Obama 'gets' 2nd amendment

By: Mark On Memmott and Jill Lawrence
USAT Politics Blog

USA TODAY's David Jackson listened in on a conference call sponsored by Barack Obama's campaign to tout the endorsement of the American Hunters and Shooters Association.

Leaders of the group said Obama is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, David reports. He says they brushed aside his statement last week that many Americans "cling" to guns because they are "bitter" over economic problems.

Some opponents have said the statement shows Obama is elitist and out of touch. "We know Sen. Obama 'gets it,' " said Ray Schoenke, president of the group. "To say that he is an 'elitist' is patently ridiculous."

The American Hunters and Shooter Association was formed two years ago to counter the more conservative Second Amendment groups, particularly the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America.

Hillary Clinton's campaign was ready with a list and links to Obama's earlier positions in favor of various gun control measures. "It will be interesting to learn how the American Hunters & Shooters Association feels about Senator Obama’s previous position to ban the manufacture, sale, and possession of all handguns," Clinton Montana state director Matt McKenna said. "It’s awfully hard to shoot a gun if you’re not allowed to have one."

Update at 2:25 p.m. ET: Danny Diaz, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, weighs in: “Should Barack Obama be the Democrats’ nominee, he will probably be the most anti-gun general election candidate in political history. The AHSA’s endorsement of Obama will not provide him any credibility on the Second Amendment.”



Obama Has Come Out In Support Of Banning Handguns, Hunting Firearms And So-Called “Assault Weapons”:

In Response To A 1996 Independent Voters Of Illinois Questionnaire, Obama Indicated That He Supported Banning The “Manufacture, Sale And Possession Of Handguns.” Question: “Do you support state legislation to … ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?” Obama’s Response: “Yes.” (Independent Voters Of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization 1996 General Candidate Questionnaire, Barack Obama Responses, 9/9/96)

  • During 4/16 Dem. Debate, Obama Falsely Claimed His Handwriting Did Not Appear On Questionnaire. “Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., maintained at Wednesday’s ABC News debate in Philadelphia that his handwriting does not appear on a 1996 questionnaire stating support for a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns. The Democratic presidential frontrunner made this claim even though a copy of the original document suggests otherwise. … When asked about the gun questionnaire with the handwriting on it, Obama adviser Robert Gibbs did not dispute that the writing was Obama’s.” (Teddy Davis and Talal Al-Khatib, “Obama Forgets Writing On Gun Questionnaire,” ABC News’ “Political Radar” Blog, www.abcnews.com, 4/16/08)

Scholar John Lott Recalls Obama Stating: “I Don’t Believe That People Should Be Able To Own Guns.” John Lott: “In fact, I knew Obama during the mid-1990s, and his answers to IVI’s question on guns fit well with the Obama that I knew. Indeed, the first time I introduced myself to him he said ‘Oh, you are the gun guy.’ I responded ‘Yes, I guess so.’ He simply responded that ‘I don’t believe that people should be able to own guns.’” (John R. Lott, Jr., “Obama And Guns: Two Different Views,” Fox News, www.foxnews.com, 4/7/08)

Obama Supported Banning “The Sale Or Transfer Of All Forms Of Semi-Automatic Weapons.” According to his responses to an Illinois State Legislative Election 1998 National Political Awareness Test, Obama pledged to “Ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.” (Project Vote Smart Website, www.votesmart.org, Accessed 3/5/08)

In 2003, Obama Voted In Support Of Legislation That “Would Have Banned Most Of The Privately Held Hunting Shotguns, Target Rifles, And Black Powder Rifles” In Illinois. “[I]n 2003, Obama voted in support of SB1195, which, if passed, would have banned most of the privately held hunting shotguns, target rifles, and black powder rifles in the state. If the ban was enacted, law enforcement officials would have been authorized to forcibly enter private homes to confiscate newly banned firearms.” (Illinois State Rifle Association, “ISRA Blasts Candidate Obama On His Record Of Hostility Toward Law-Abiding Firearm Owners,” Press Release, 8/24/04)

In A 2004 Candidate Questionnaire, Obama Supported Banning So-Called “Assault Weapons.” Question: “Do you support legislation to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of … assault weapons?” Obama’s Response: “Yes.” (Lynn Sweet, “Obama’s 2003 IVI-IPO Questionnaire May Be Getting Closer Scrutiny,” Chicago Sun-Times’ “The Scoop From Washington” Blog, http://blogs.suntimes.com, 12/11/07)


Obama Has A Long Anti-Gun Record:

Obama Was Director Of Anti-Gun Joyce Foundation, Which Spent Millions On Gun-Control Causes. “Adding even further skepticism to Obama’s claim of support for the 2nd Amendment is his previous service as a director of the Joyce Foundation. Since 2000, the Joyce Foundation has provided over $15 Million in funding to radical gun control organizations such as the Violence Policy Center and the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. The Joyce Foundation is tightly linked to the Soros Open Society Institute -- an extremist group that advocates a worldwide ban on civilian firearm ownership.” (Illinois State Rifle Association, “ISRA Blasts Candidate Obama On His Record Of Hostility Toward Law-Abiding Firearm Owners,” Press Release, 8/24/04)

Running For The U.S. Senate In 2004, Obama Advocated National Gun-Control Legislation. “On the issue of prohibiting citizens from carrying concealed weapons, Obama said he believes national legislation should be passed to ‘prevent other states’ laws [allowing citizens to conceal their guns] from threatening the safety of Illinois residents.’” (John Chase, “Keyes, Obama Are Far Apart On Guns,” Chicago Tribune, 9/15/04)

Obama Has Expressed His Opposition To Concealed Carry. Obama: “I mean, I am consistently on record and will continue to be on record as opposing concealed carry.” (David Mendell, “Obama Has Center In His Sights,” Chicago Tribune, 4/27/04)

In 2001, Obama Voted Against A Bill To Allow Individuals To Carry A Concealed Weapon When They Have A Valid Order Of Protection Out Against Another Person. (S.B. 604, Senate Floor Third Reading, Failed, 29-27-0, 4/4/01, Obama Voted Nay)

Obama Believes The DC Gun Ban Is Constitutional. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.” (James Oliphant and Michael J. Higgins, “Court To Hear Gun Case,” Chicago Tribune, 11/20/07)

In 2004, Obama Voted Against Self-Defense Rights. “[Obama] opposed letting people use a self-defense argument if charged with violating local handgun bans by using weapons in their homes. The bill was a reaction to a Chicago-area man who, after shooting an intruder, was charged with a handgun violation.” (“Obama Record May Be Gold Mine For Critics,” The Associated Press, 1/17/07)

Obama Wants To Turn Law-Abiding Gun Owners Who Are Victims Of Theft Into Felons. Obama is proposing to make it a felony for a gun owner whose firearm was stolen from his residence which causes harm to another person if that weapon was not securely stored in that home.” (Chinta Strausberg, “Obama Unveils Federal Gun Bill,” Chicago Defender, 12/13/99)

In 2005, Obama Voted Twice To Hold Manufacturers, Distributors, Dealers And Importers Of Firearms And Ammunition Liable For The Acts Of Criminals. (S. 397, CQ Vote #206: Motion Agreed To 66-32: R 53-1; D 13-30; I 0-1, 7/26/05, Obama Voted Nay; S. 397, CQ Vote #219: Passed 65-31: R 50-2; D 14-29; I 1-0, 7/29/05, Obama Voted Nay)

Obama Pressed To Require Gun Owners To Supply Photos And Fingerprints To State Officials. Sen. Barack Obama of Chicago called the Democrats’ proposed crackdown ‘not only constitutional, but eminently reasonable.’ … The proposals would: … Make gun owners apply in person for Firearm Owner Identification cards and supply their photos and fingerprints.” (Sean Noble, “Senate Democrats’ Proposals Take Aim At Weapons Control,” The [Springfield, IL] State Journal-Register, 2/15/01)

In 1999, Obama Came Out In Support Of “Smart Gun” Technology. “[Obama is] also asking that gun manufacturers be required to develop safety measures that permit only the original owner of the firearm to operate the weapon purchased.” (Chinta Strausberg, “Obama Unveils Federal Gun Bill,” Chicago Defender, 12/13/99)

Obama Has Expressed His Continued Support For Registration and Licensing. Obama: I’ll continue to be in favor of handgun law registration requirements and licensing requirements for training …” (Chinta Strausberg, “Obama And Trotter Takes Aim At IRA For Waging Unjust Campaign,” Chicago Defender, 7/5/01)

Obama Has Received “F” Ratings From The National Rifle Association:

In 2004, 2002 And 1998, Obama Received “F” Ratings From The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund. The NRA has given Obama 3 “F’s.” (National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund Website, www.nrapvf.org, Accessed 1/8/08; National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund Website, www.nrapvf.org, Accessed 1/8/08; 1998 Illinois National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund Political Preference Chart, p.2)


Obama Wanted To Ban Gun Businesses From Being Within Five Miles Of A School Or Park, But Balked At Placing Similar Restrictions On Porn Shops:

At An Anti-Gun Rally, Obama Proposed Federal Gun Control Legislation That Included Restrictions On The Placement Of Gun Stores. “[Obama is] proposing that all federally licensed gun dealers sell firearms in a storefront and not from their homes while banning their business from being within five miles of a school or a park.” (Chinta Strausberg, “Obama Unveils Federal Gun Bill,” Chicago Defender, 12/13/99)

  • But In 2001, Obama Voted “Present” On A Bill To Place Similar Restrictions On Adult Establishments. In 2001, Obama refused to support a bill restricting “adult use” establishments by prohibiting locations of such establishments within 1000 feet of schools, parks, places of worship, preschools, day cares and other residential areas. (S.B. 609: Senate Floor Third Reading, Failed, 33-15-05, 3/29/01, Obama Voted Present)

Saturday, April 5, 2008


As a follow-up to my comments last week during the Marriage Tax Credit Debate: I would love to see South Carolina, and the nation for that matter, create more incentives for both parents to remain in the home, as I feel that one of the societal issues in America (and England according to this article) have to do with the erosion of our family structure, most importantly having both Mom and Dad at home. This is an article by Stephen Flurry from "theTrumpet.com"

Stephen FlurryColumnist
Britain’s Broken Society
March 28, 2008 | From theTrumpet.com
Now, even marriage is being called into question.
Stephen Flurry
Stephen Flurry

The marriage rate in Britain has collapsed to its lowest point since its government began keeping statistics in 1862. Even when discounting population growth, the numbers are embarrassingly low. According to Britain’s Office for National Statistics (bons), in 2006, the UK recorded a little over 228,000 marriages—its lowest number since 1895, when its population was barely half what it is today.

In response to the study, the Daily Mail quoted British researcher Patricia Morgan as saying that the government had succeeded in “eradicating” marriage. “This is what they have tried to achieve and they should be congratulating themselves,” Morgan said. “But it is a disaster for children, families and society.” The British government has indeed played a significant role in accelerating family breakdown. As the Sunday Telegraph pointed out last year (July 15, 2007),

Over the past decade, Labor has presided over the almost total destruction of any official recognition that marriage is something to be encouraged, to the point where most official forms no longer require, indeed no longer allow, people filling them in to state whether they are married. It has become government policy to accept that co-habitation should be recognized as “just as good” and “equally as valid a choice” as marriage, and that all trace of stigma attached to having children out of wedlock should be removed.

Thus, in legislating policies and entitlements tailor-made for society’s exceptions, the exceptions have now become the rule.

That’s not to say that Labor is the root cause of Britain’s family breakdown. As the bons study notes, the institution of marriage has been steadily eroding since the early 1970s. Consider these recent statistics:

  • For Brits who choose to marry, 45 percent of new marriages will end in divorce. Added to that, the average age for women entering first-time marriages is nearly 30—for men, it’s 32.
  • Of the marriages that stay together, based on a recent column in the Sunday Times, an incredible 59 percent of married women said they would leave their husbands tomorrow if they could be assured of economic stability. Half of the husbands questioned defined their marriage as “loveless.”
  • According to the annual British Social Attitudes Survey, 70 percent of Brits see nothing wrong with premarital sex. Less than a third believe homosexuality is wrong. These attitudes have become increasingly more liberal over the past 20 years.
  • Forty percent of British babies are now born out of wedlock. The teen pregnancy rate in England and Wales is six times higher than in Holland—three times that of France. As Jenny McCartney recently wrote for the Telegraph, Britain’s teen pregnancy plague is “the talk of Europe.”
  • Violent crime among teenagers in the UK has increased 37 percent in just three years, according to the Sunday Telegraph: “Total offenses climbed steadily from 184,474 in 2003 to 222,750 in 2006, the last year for which figures are available—a rise of 21 percent. But the increase in violent offending was steeper, while robberies rose even more dramatically, up 43 percent over the three years. By contrast, adult convictions and cautions increased by less than 1 percent.”

The breakdown of family life is Britain’s most urgent crisis today. Every week, it seems, newspapers in the UK shed additional light on how wrecked the British family actually is. The once United Kingdom has not only lost its empire, what’s left at home is rotten to the core.

Earlier this year, the Royal United Services Institute (rusi) published a sobering report about Britain’s national security risks. (You can view a pdf of the report here). The report’s authors argue that British weakness at home is exposing the country to dangerous threats from abroad and within its borders. “The ‘war on terror’ is with us now in all its ugliness,” the report asserts. It then raised a number of important questions it said the British government needed to answer, as well as choices to be made. “In making our choices, however, we need to know who we are ourselves and what we stand for,” it said. “Once we know these things and admit them, we can restore our divided house to harmony and thence to security” (emphasis mine throughout). Yet, in addressing Britain’s divided house, notice what the report concentrates on:

The United Kingdom presents itself as a target, as a fragmenting, post-Christian society, increasingly divided about interpretations of its history, about its national aims, its values and in its political identity. That fragmentation is worsened by the firm self-image of those elements within it who refuse to integrate. This is a problem worsened by the lack of leadership from the majority which in misplaced deference to “multiculturalism” failed to lay down the line to immigrant communities, thus undercutting those within them trying to fight extremism.

But unless Britain is willing to fight extremism within the basic building block of society—the nuclear family—how will it find strength to confront its enemies abroad? Britain’s interpretations of history, its national aims, values and political identity all begin at home—within individual families of British society.

In her book Londonistan, Melanie Phillips points to the importance of America’s alliance with Britain in its war against terrorism. Great Britain, she said, is America’s most important ally. “The United States may provide the muscle to defend the free world against Islamic fascism, but Britain—the originator of the values that America defends—provides the backbone.”

And the solid family structure is what has traditionally held that backbone together. But over the past two generations, family life in Britain has undergone a radical transformation. The Judeo-Christian system of ethics has collapsed. Government programs are laden with all sorts of incentives that encourage deviant behavior. Forty percent of British citizens receive some kind of government subsidy. It has become a culture of dependency where divorce, out-of-wedlock births and juvenile crime are sky high.

Even marriage is being called into question.

Why Marriage?

Well ahead of his time, Herbert Armstrong wrote this 40 years ago: “Some psychologists, taking a new look at the institution of marriage, are voicing shocking predictions for the near future. Indeed, in their professional eyes, the trend toward obsolescence of the marriage custom has already started, and is gaining momentum!”

Marriages are not only breaking down, he went on to write in 1968, even their usefulness and desirability are being seriously questioned!

Imagine British citizens questioning the usefulness of marriage 50 or 60 years ago. Yet today, we have drifted so far from our Maker that now we question the very institutions He ordained! According to the bons study, only 34 percent of British marriages even occur within a religious setting, which is half what it was in 1991—just 17 years ago. Look how far and how fast we have drifted away from anything having to do with the Bible.

We take marriage for granted! If, as many assume, man evolved from apes and monkeys over the course of millions of years, then, as Mr. Armstrong asked, where along the evolutionary line did marriage begin? Animals have never married. Why and when did it begin with mankind?

Or, if you believe that God created man, why does the largest Christian denomination on Earth teach that the highest spiritual state is that of an unmarried celibate?

These questions are answered in our free booklet Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete?