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Carolina-Canada Connections

November 16, 2017

Carolina-Canada Connections — Vol. 9, No. 22

A weekly outreach to our friends and colleagues in Canada

Top of the News

  • House Republicans passed their version of a major tax-reform package today.  If enacted, it would represent the first big win Republicans have been able to deliver since reclaiming both houses of Congress and the White House in the November 2016 election.  Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) got the bill approved mostly on a party-line 227-205 vote.  However, House Republicans won’t be celebrating prematurely because the Senate must still pass its version of the tax plan.  Senate Republicans dropped a bombshell into their version late Tuesday – a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate and plans to sunset a number of individual tax provisions – including the estate tax exemption – all in a bid to meet a budgetary requirement to not increase the deficit after 10 years. The move will generate an estimated $318.4 billion over a decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.  The Senate has been struggling to find a way to add less than $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit in its version of tax reform so that it can pass by a simple majority in both the House and Senate under budget reconciliation rules. By repealing the Obamacare individual mandate, the math works for Republicans.  It also helps them to finally honor at least part of the promise they’ve been making to voters for seven years to repeal and replace the national healthcare mandate.  If Senate Republicans can muster the 51 votes needed to pass their version (a big if considering it was Senate Republicans who killed GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare) House and Senate negotiators would then need to work out their differences in a conference committee.
     
  • Three UCLA men’s basketball players thanked President Trump and the United States government for intervening after being detained in China and accused of shoplifting.  Cody Riley, LiAngelo Ball and Jalen Hill gave short prepared statements to the media yesterday, in which they admitted to shoplifting and apologized to the UCLA community, their families and the team.  Their coach also announced yesterday that the three would be suspended from the team indefinitely. They were held by Chinese authorities after being accused of stealing a pair of sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near the hotel where they were staying in Hangzhou. President Trump raised the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Beijing. Xi promised to look into the case and told Trump the players would be treated fairly. The UCLA men's basketball team was in China for a weeklong trip and played a game against Georgia Tech without the detained trio. Ball, Hill and Riley were returned to the US on Tuesday.
     
  • Senate Republicans are indicating they will do whatever it takes to prevent Alabama’s GOP candidate for the US Senate, Roy Moore, from becoming the next senator from that state.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had vigorously opposed Moore in the GOP primary race and along with most of his Senate colleagues, is calling on Moore to withdraw from the Senate race in the face of mounting sexual misconduct allegations.  Moore continues to deny the charges. A lawyer for Moore suggested yesterday a yearbook signature presented by a woman accusing him of sexual assault as proof of contact could be fake and called on the accuser and her attorney to release the yearbook to a neutral custodian for handwriting analysis. The Republican National Committee has cut off staff and financial support from the Moore campaign and he is now raising funds privately.  New polls have his Democrat opponent solidly in the lead.  Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senators leading the charge against Moore and has suggested an expulsion vote for Moore is on the table if he stays in the race and wins.  “If he continues this will not end well for Mr. Moore,” Graham tweeted.  At this late date, Moore’s name cannot be removed from the ballot.  He would have to step aside for the GOP to replace him.  Meanwhile, with the accusations against Moore being vigorously reported and accepted by the mainstream press, reporters from the New York Times, The Atlantic, to MSNBC and CNN are now admitting that the women who accused former President Bill Clinton of inappropriate sexual behavior and worse were diminished, dismissed and treated disrespectfully by the media. 
     
  • And Capitol Hill is looking at its actions now as more women come forward to tell stories of sexual harassment in the hallowed halls of Congress.  Two female Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday that would require sexual harassment awareness training and reform the process available for Congressional staffers to file complaints.  Speaker Paul Ryan says the House will adopt a policy to mandate the awareness training for members and staff. The Senate already moved last week to pass a measure requiring the training for its members and employees.  This all as explosive new sexual harassment charges are now being leveled against Democrat Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. 

Workin’ It In Washington

Your former US Ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, began his busy week in Washington with a slew of meetings. 

His schedule Tuesday included visits with Congressman Tom Rice (R-SC), Senator John Boozman (R-AR), Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC), Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA), and Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA).    

On Wednesday, Team Wilkins was honored to spend time with Congressman Jimmy Duncan (R-TN), Congressman Peter Visclosky (D-IN), Congressman Brian Babin (R-TX) as well as Congressman Jeff Denham (R-CA).  

From DC, Wilkins winged his way Wednesday out to Vancouver for a board meeting of the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities where he serves as general counsel. 

Oops, They Did It Again!

Since your last edition of the CCC, rabid Clemson fans (read: David Wilkins) have recovered from that which cannot be named. (Editor’s note:  that would be the no exSyracuse game that Clemson may not have won, just putting it out there…)

But whatever may or may not have happened up at Syracuse – it’s all old news now – because the Clemson Tigers have gone on to win (no maybes here!) their last three football games with Saturday’s victory against Florida State securing the Tigers their third consecutive ACC Atlantic Division Title. 

And, by the way, the new college football rankings are out and Clemson is #2 in the nation.  (Alabama is ranked #1 – but, whatever.)  If that sounds familiar to our alert CCC readers, it’s because IT IS! 

This is exactly where we were most of last season with Clemson and Alabama fighting it out for the top two rankings in the country headed into January’s national championship game (the same game that Clemson won lest you forget!)

Back to present day, some VIPs were at last Saturday’s big game including our US Ambassador to the United Nations and former SC Governor, Nikki Haley, as well as Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC) who recently won a coveted seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  It was also great to host our pal Scott Wenger from Suncor and some of his Canadian buddies! 

Canadians for Clemson!  David Wilkins and Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC) are surrounded by Scott Wenger (in white) and some devoted Canadian Clemson fans! 

Clemson next faces in-state South Carolina competitor and legendary institution – The Citadel – at home this Saturday for the military appreciation game, before the Tigers take it on the road to face – cue ominous sounding music here! – archrivals of all space and time:  them Fighting Gamecocks of the University of South Carolina!

Yes, sports fans, it’s almost that time of year again, the one day each year that divides South Carolinians even mo’ worser than politics or the best way to cook grits.  The Clemson-Carolina game.  Or the Carolina-Clemson game if it’s gonna get you all twisted.  Whatevs.  It’s just around the bend, a coupla few days after Thanksgiving.  This year the Tigers face the Gamecocks on the Cocks’ home turf in Columbia.   (Last year, the Tigers squeaked out a 56-7 win at home in the annual bragfest ritual.  So suffice to say the Gamecocks want revenge. Bad. Should be a great game.  For half the state.)

Stay tuned…

They Said What?

  • “The Democratic Party needs to make its own reckoning of the way it protected Bill Clinton. The party needs to come to terms with the fact that it was so enraptured by their brilliant, Big Dog president and his stunning string of progressive accomplishments that it abandoned some of its central principles. The party was on the wrong side of history and there are consequences for that. Yet expedience is not the only reason to make this public accounting. If it is possible for politics and moral behavior to coexist, then this grave wrong needs to be acknowledged. If (Harvey) Weinstein and Mark Halperin and Louis C.K. and all the rest can be held accountable, so can our former president and so can his party, which so many Americans so desperately need to rise again,” – The Atlantic contributing editor Caitlin Flanagan writing under the headline this week, “Bill Clinton: A Reckoning.”  
     
  • “The Democratic response, and sort of the victim shaming that took place during the allegations against Bill Clinton in hindsight now, how bad did that look? – NBC’s Chuck Todd on MSNBC interviewing Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) about taxpayer money used to fund some $15 million in settlements for sexual harassment suits filed against members of the US Congress.
     
  • "They could back the Democratic candidate, who, from everybody's reporting is a guy of integrity.  They could put party aside and back the Democrat against the pedophile,” – ABC News contributor Matthew Dowd on Alabama voters opting against GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore. 
     
  • "I'm still angry at what Al Franken did to me.  Every time I hear his voice or see his face, I am angry” – Leann Tweeden, who is accusing Franken of kissing and groping her without her consent. 
     
  • "To President Trump and the United States government, thank you for taking the time to intervene on our behalf," – UCLA basketball player Cody Riley in a brief press conference yesterday after being detained in China and returned to the US.