Sunday, November 30, 2008

Obama faces reality and the far left is angry

According to widespread media reports, President-elect Obama will retain the services of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, make Hillary Clinton his Secretary or State, and tap former McCain supporter and retired Marine General James Jones his national security advisor.

To those folks out there with a brain, it is a sign that Obama faces reality and does what he thinks is best for the country. Keeping Gates in place shows continuity in a a time for war. Bringing in the experience of Hillary Clinton, (whose husband's experiences comes in as well), and someone like General Jones shows that Obama is smart enough to know he and other foreign policy and defense neophytes are not wise enough to meet the nation's challenges. The President-elect is going for the best and the brightest. For, that President-elect Obama should be applauded.

The President-elect is applauded by most, save for the leftists. Left wing bloggers have made in clear in recent posts that they think President-elect Obama has betrayed them. Those left wingers wanted outgoing President Bush and Secretary Gates tried for criminal activity. They reveled in the thought of perhaps Jesse Jackson as Secretary of State. Obama apparently will have none of that nonsense.

Indeed, it appears that Obama will continue the long string of American luck in its Presidents knowing how do the job of protecting the American people. There just seems something about that full briefing a President-elect gets that moderates the man. I think of how Eisenhower dealt with people who were afraid of John Kennedy becoming President of the United States. Eisenhower simply remarked, "he is an intelligent young man, and when given the information, he will understand the threats to this nation and act accordingly."

The same is true of President-elect Obama. The President-elect got his briefings and appears to be acting accordingly with his national security appointments. The far left is howling and should be expected to continue to complain. Those on the far left envisioned a President Obama who would appoint some peace activist to a national security post. Thank goodness the President-elect has a brain and understands the threats the United States faces and has the courage to go with the best team his ideology allows.

As predicted on this website, the far left are showing themselves to be the first to criticize the President-elect. That criticism will only increase as President Obama makes sound decisions based in rational thought. The anger on the far left will only grow stronger as President Obama shows again and again that he thinks more than feels, and makes calls based upon reason. The far left did not want that in "their" President. They wanted a reactionary who did their bidding.

Luckily, for the rest of us, President-elect Obama appears now to be showing some sense on the most important aspect of his job. Here's hoping he does to cave into left wing pressure. However, the grumbling from the left is unfortunately for the President-elect the beginning of criticism. It is far easier to campaign against something than to actually govern. The reality of responsibility that goes with power in a democracy will be quick and harsh for the President-elect. I predict a very short political "honeymoon" for the Obama Administration.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

So called Door Buster Sales are going too far

First, let me say, two years ago, I was a part of the problem. I still lived in Columbia, but I was up visiting my parents for Thanksgiving. My dad and I decided to go to a store in Anderson to buy computers at a great price that Friday morning. Thinking we were ahead of the curve, we got up in the wee hours of the morning, downed some coffee, only to find that there was a line stretching out around the store in question. Needless to say, all we got was little sleep and some good coffee. Before that day, it had never occurred to me that people would actually sleep at the storefront to get an item on sale. It seemed insane.

And, frankly, it is insane. Over the past few years, the so called "door buster" sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving have increased in intensity. That increase brings out the nuttiness in people. When some store offers to sell you a big screen HD television for half of market value, but notes it will only have five to sell, people react. They plot ways to be one of those five lucky customers. The problem is thousands plot to be one of those five. The stores are hoping those disappointed at not being one of the lucky five will buy something to soothe their egos and leave the store thinking that their standing in line meant something. Is it clever marketing or fraud? You be the judge.

Regardless, it brings crowds waiting outside to a fever pitch. I saw that firsthand two years ago. It was a matter of time before such a fever pitch resulted in tragic results. A tragic result happened at a Long Island, New York Wal-Mart, as frenzied customers tore the doors off the hinges and trampled an employee to death. Reports even state that customers shoved and harassed emergency services workers trying to save the trampled man's life. So, is this where America has come to? Are we now a people who will trample a man to death so we can get a HD TV or laptop computer at a deep discount price? We wonder why the world sees us in a negative light? We wonder why we have so many troubles to deal with?

Something is amiss in the culture of both the American business and the American consumer. I am a conservative, so I do not propose some type of government action. However, I do believe that any business that had the guts to offer sale items on the Friday after Thanksgiving in mass quantities would would score big points with American consumers. Further, I think the average American consumer ought to ask himself if saving a couple of hundred bucks is actually worth shoving a neighbor down, or in extreme cases, injuring or killing a neighbor. The so called door buster sale makes the American people look like self centered asses to the rest of world, as it should. Those door buster sales bring out the worst in people. I also believe it is a symptom of the increasing nature of the American culture to get something for little or no work.

Door buster sales are nothing more than an illusion. However, unlike the legerdemain of the magician, the illusion put forth by retail stores actually inspires the selfish impulses of the American consumer to be put forth. It is not entertainment. It is a recipe for incivility. That incivility is not only a loss for folks who do not get the bargain they hoped for, but for the American culture. It is hard to argue to the world how great the American culture is when Americans trample a man to death, and show indifference, so they can save a couple hundred of bucks on a television.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Reagan on Thanksgiving

I could not say it better. So I simply offer the words of the greatest President of my lifetime in wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.

The 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Political Awards

This year’s Thanksgiving Day political awards are difficult to choose. The VUI staff has conferred within itself and with other bloggers and wise old political sages alike and came up with a list of nominees for the awards. However, it has been difficult to distinguish between the nominees for the various awards.

First, let’s start with Cornbread Dressing Award for Lifetime Political Achievement. The nominees are:

Bill Cotty, retiring state representative from Richland County
Cotty was both loved and hated by people in politics. That is usually is the sign someone actually doing an honest job.

Bob Walker, defeated for re-election to the SC House from Spartanburg County
Walker was the great white whale Howard Rich went out and defeated. However, before Rich and his money came along to redefine the word “Republican,” Walker was helping build the party of Carroll Campbell in SC.

Frank Willis, defeated for re-election as Mayor of Florence by one vote.
Willis brought a limited government approach to city government that would make Republicans proud, despite the fact he was a Democrat. His economic development efforts turned Florence into a boom town in a bad economy.

Howard Wells, defeated for re-election as Sheriff of Union County.
Sheriff Wells came to prominence during the Susan Smith saga in 1994, and showed professionalism and law enforcement could go hand in hand with a Southern Sheriff. Local politics are always tricky, but even some of Wells’s opponents cede he served the county well for most of his 16 years in office.

The last nominee, however is the winner. Retiring State Senator John Drummond started serving his nation as a pilot and then prisoner of war in Nazi Germany. More will be written about Senator Drummond in the next few weeks. John Drummond is a South Carolinian with distinction, the likes of which is few and far between in politics.

The next award is the cranberry sauce award for outstanding achievement at the local government level. This award is especially difficult to choose, because we seem to be choosing between big government types who want to grow local government and its tax burden versus the community nutcases. Add to that our 2006 recipient of this award turned around and voted to raise local taxes! Through the muddled mess of local officials, we choose Myrtle Beach City Councilman Randal Wallace as this year’s winner. There are some things VUI disagrees with Councilman Wallace on local government, but we bestow this honor upon him for his pro-growth stands that are sometimes unpopular and his honesty, which is sorely needed in South Carolina local government.

That brings us to the Holiday Ham Award. This award is given to the political figure who frankly, thinks way too highly of himself. Just when we were about to give the Holiday Ham award to someone from the Howard Rich takeover movement, along came Tumpy Campbell and his little brother Mike. The Campbell brothers are at it again; with rumors flying they want to run for Governor and Lt. Governor, respectively, off their late father’s name. One would think Mike Campbell’s defeat in 2006 would have sent some sort of message. It apparently did not.

Indulge me using a personal example to make my point about Tumpy and Mike. My father is sharp in textiles. Being his son, I gained a cursory knowledge of textile manufacturing that is probably a little better than folks without such exposure. However, it would take tremendous self arrogance to present myself to some textile manufacturer as able to work on a mill’s management team because my dad is good at the subject. The Campbells should note the road the Thurmond sons are taking, in that Strom Jr. and Paul Thurmond sought local elective offices. The Campbell brothers’ insistence on being handed big political jobs on their father’s reputation makes them hands down winners of the Holiday Ham Award.

The Fruitcake Award is self explanatory. You have to appear to the public to be a little politically nuts to be considered for this award. Frankly, there are a good many political candidates and pundits in South Carolina who fit that bill. However, VUI decided on defeated Anderson County Council Candidate Rick Freemantle. When you lose a Republican primary in a very traditionally upscale Republican district against an incumbent who raised taxes and is on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Watch List; it speaks volumes. It is almost as if voters said, “That guy might be crazy, but at least he ain’t this other guy.”

That brings us to our biggest awards: The Golden Drumstick for Political Achievement and the Political Turkey of the Year Award.

The nominees for the Gold Drumstick are:

Second District Congressman Joe Wilson
Since his upset primary win for the state senate in the 1980s, the knock against Joe Wilson has been that he has not fought a real race. That changed in 2008. In a tough year for Republicans, especially one like Wilson who openly supported President Bush, Wilson’s personal political touch came into play as he solidly defeated the first “tough” opponent in 20 years.

State Senator Shane Massey of Aiken County
When Massey won the special election to fill the seat of Democrat Tommy Moore, pundits quietly argued that victory was a fluke. Massey worked his behind off to win a full term in the formally “true blue” district for Democrats.

Sam and Inez Tennenbaum
The former Education Superintendent and her political activist husband have been fixtures in the South Carolina political scene for years. However, their early and strong support of President-elect Obama, and their work for his huge primary win might compel the couple to the national stage.

Congressman Jim Clyburn
Congressman Clyburn played the Democratic primary very well. Clyburn took an “elder statesman” approach to the primary and thus did not alienate the President-elect or Hillary Clinton. And, as the Clintons seem to be having a big say in the upcoming Obama Administration, Clyburn’s approach appears wise and only solidifies his influence in Washington politics.

SC House Representative Bill Sandifer
Sandifer faced the blunt force of the Howard Rich Machine and whipped its behind. Even with the Governor of South Carolina campaigning against him, Sandifer racked up 72% of the Republican primary vote by keeping in close touch with constituents and local political matters.

Howard Rich
There are two approaches to Howard Rich. One approach is that he is a man committed to better government who is spending his wealth to see that happen. The other is that Howard Rich is hellbent on buying control of a small state and hiring political hacks and funding dirty campaigns to gain control. Regardless the take you have on the man, his money and his hired hands made a political difference in 2008.

Floyd Nicholson
The Greenwood Mayor won a tough fight for John Drummond’s old state senate seat in Greenwood and Abbeville Counties against a well funded Republican. Add to that the fact that Nicholson will serve in the senate as one of the rare African Americans in South Carolina history to represent a white majority senate district.

The winner of the Golden Drumstick is… and with apologies to my fellow Republicans, Floyd Nicholson. Enough can not be said about the local political personal touch of Nicholson and how he got Republicans to split their tickets in crucial precincts. People simply like the guy. Though Nicholson will probably face a tough challenge in 2012, Republicans had better not underestimate Nicholson’s ability to shake every hand in the room and show up at community events other politicians say “ho hum” about. Some might quickly dismiss Nicholson’s win as part of the Obama effect. They are wrong. Nicholson won where Obama did not. Nicholson is good at what he does, and well deserving of the Golden Drumstick.

That brings us to the Turkey of the Year Awards. The crackerjack staff of Voting under the Influence and those we consulted were excited about this award. Political turkeys abound this year. Here are the nominees:

The South Carolina Democratic Party
How on Earth can the South Carolina Democrats go into an election year with a very unpopular Republican President and the Obama factor and not find legitimate candidates for so many offices, including United States Senate? When you are dealing with perhaps the best year for your party in thirty years and your US Senate nominee is a right wing nutcase, you know you are in trouble. Where was say, a Jim Hodges or a Dick Riley? Anyone answering the phone for the SC Democrats?

The Greenwood County Republican Party operation
Obama is on the ticket, and you know folks in your area will turn out to actually vote against him, and you lose an incumbent Sheriff and an open senate state seat with a good candidate who is well funded? Good grief! VUI gave respect to Nicholson for his talents. You folks should have been aware of that fact months ago.

Bob Walker, Former SC Rep. from Spartanburg
I realize that the Howard Rich crowd thinks that this is their crowning achievement in SC politics. Their pet candidate knocked off the sitting House Education and Public Works Chairman. Whatever. Walker had local political problems a year or so out over a problem in his church. Walker compounded those local problems by not really taking his opponent seriously. As stated above, Walker served the GOP well for years, but in the spring of 2008, his campaign was lackluster and he lacked the attentive nature to local politics representatives like Bill Sandifer had. Walker lost the race more than Rich and company won it.

John Edwards, former US Vice Presidential nominee
The South Carolina Democrats’ favorite son laid a dud in his SC primary effort against President-elect Obama. Edwards followed it up by screwing (pun intended) himself out of a second consecutive VP nomination with a sex scandal. Note to John Edwards: you can only have the sex scandal after you are in office and survive politically.

The defeated trio of Anderson County Council
Bill McAbee, Michael Thompson and Larry Greer were all once respected Republicans. Then, they voted to raise taxes. Then, when asked about credit card expenditures, they ran away from questions. Never before have three men seemed so determined to end their own political careers. The voters showed them the door. The only thing more disappointing then watching these once good men go down to defeat was watching them create their own demise. It was painful to watch.

The winner of the Political Turkey of the Year for 2008 is…The South Carolina Democratic Party. I know Democrats will scream over that. They will claim the Obama win and the big national congressional wins. However, here in South Carolina, the SC Democratic Party blew their political chance. With all the Obama hoopla, Democrats left a large number of races uncontested. Other races had weak candidates. Again, nothing sums it better than the fact the Democratic nominee for US Senate was just an old ticked off right winger. In a year in which people were actually looking for alternatives, the SC Democrats offered few. That does not break the hearts of the staff of VUI. We don’t really want a true revival of the Democratic Party. However, we do call ‘em like we see ‘em, and when we do that, for missing their big chance, the South Carolina Democratic Party is the 2008 Political Turkey of the Year.
Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful for the blessings you have and remember our troops and their families.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A couple of days off

VUI is taking a couple of days off before coming back Wednesday night/Thursday morning wtih the Third Annual Voting under the Influence Thanksgiving Day Awards.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SC House Showdown is looming

Most folks think that if a party controls a political entity, that party gets its way Well its not true when it comes to the South Carolina House of Representatives. The House is overwhelmingly Republican, but there seems to a be a number of SC House Republicans who do not follow the strict marching orders of Speaker Bobby Harrell.

Take Rep. Nikki Haley for example. She is just messing up things with her request for open and recorded votes. Sure, longtime House insiders say her ideas are redundant and will drag out things in the House. However, let;s be frank and honest, Haley is setting up a showdown in the House against Harrell.

Who is right and who is wrong? I do not know, I have heard from both sides. However one thing is sure. Haley leads a group of Republican legislators who turn out not to be robots for Speaker Harrell, but people who think and act for themselves. Haley will take advantage of that and make her moves in the House.

If you wonder where you have seen this controlled thing go bad, view the video. One can never hire a wild gun and hope to control it. It is going to be fun to see how the Harrell versus Haley battle ends up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hillary brings back memories of Al Haig

It appears that President-elect Barack Obama will cave into the wishes of his party's elders and nominate Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next Secretary of State. On the surface, naming Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State looks to be a wise political move.

However, it seems like President-elect Obama is facing a situation like then President-elect Reagan faced in the late fall of 1980. (Since Obama expresses some respect and admiration for Ronald Reagan, perhaps he will note this.)

Ronald Reagan was elected, like Obama, from the outside of his party and Washington circles. Party elders pointed him to nominate General Al Haig as Secretary of State. Haig had a long resume, like Senator Clinton. Haig had been a decorated and successful military officer but was perhaps better respected as Nixon's last chief of staff. The chattering classes of Washington saw Haig as the guy who actually ran the White House in Nixon's last days as Nixon supposedly drank heavily and denied things around him, and as Gerald Ford was brought up to speed. To the Washington elites in media and partisan circles, Al Haig was the old man to bring sense to things as much as Hillary Clinton seems now as the old lady to bring sense to things.

The problem with Al Haig was that he could not tow the line, so to speak and be a team player. General Haig was used to calling the shots and shaping policy, be it as a General or as perhaps the most powerful Chief of White House staff in American history. Haig reveled in being the man in charge. It was evident when President Reagan was shot in March of 1981 when Haig made his infamous remarks about being in charge at the White House. It continued when Haig wanted to go his own way when Reagan friend Margaret Thatcher chose to fight for some tiny island invaded by Argentina. General Haig resigned his post in late 1982, frustrated and in disgrace.

Enter the scene of 2008. President-elect Obama has big pressure to bring in Hillary Clinton into the Secretary of State's post. However, Clinton, like Haig, is used to having a big say in things from the White House. As perhaps the most powerful First Lady in history, it just does not seem logical that Mrs. Clinton will conform to Obama policies without a dust up of sorts.

In his defense, President-elect Obama faces one helluva situation. Like President-elect Reagan before him, he all but has to pay some tribute to a respected party stalwart, knowing full well that stalwart will be hard to work with and will likely be removed by 2010.

What is doubtful is that Mrs. Clinton will have the honor of General Haig. When Haig realized his situation, he saluted and resigned. The President-elect had better know Mrs. Clinton will fight for every day in power.

To show how things could go, here's a video from the movie "The Day Reagan was shot." I would guess that Hillary would go even more overboard to take charge.

45 years ago today

Forty-five years ago today, an event happened in Dallas that forever changed American history and inspired the new age of conspiracy theories.

President John F. Kennedy traveled to Texas in November of 1963 to mend some political ties as his 1964 re-election campaign loomed. Kennedy was a Democrat, but he stood for tax cuts and for a strong national defense. As President of the United States, Kennedy called for sending a man to the moon and called for challenging the American people to tackle hard things to prove themselves better competitors than the Soviets. Some conservative pundits argue that President Kennedy would be a Republican today. I will let them argue that.

Instead, I will just note that John F. Kennedy was, on November 22, 1963, a President of the United States simply doing his job when he arrived on a beautiful fall morning in Dallas, Texas. President Kennedy rode in an open air limosuine that wound its way through the downtown streets of Dallas. It was on those streets that President Kennedy met his death from an assassin's bullet. Governor Connelly of Texas was wounded.

Things that day forty-five years ago were in a panic. Upon news of the shooting, telephones in Washington, D.C. were overwhelmed, resulting in the system temporarily failing. The stock markets were shut down. School classes were hushed. Numerous accounts from that day state that the nation just halted.

When the nation learned that President Kennedy was dead, all sorts of rumors flew. Those rumors were compounded when the alleged assassin, John Harvey Oswald, was gunned down himself outside a Dallas police station by a distraught bar owner, Jack Ruby. Rumors hit a fever pitch. President Johnson appointed the Warren Commission, a bipartisan group of respected leaders to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy. However, the Warren Commission's report was never fully embraced by the American people.

As a result, books were sold, movies were made, and learned individuals and nutcases alike chimed in on who really had President Kennedy killed. It created an conspiracy atmosphere that still exists today. At all levels of government activity, there remains a distinct and vocal minority that thinks government or big business or big mafia is plotting against the people. It all goes back to the events of that day in 1963.

Do I know what really happened in Dallas that day? Nope. If I did, I would write a book. But, I do know that whatever happened and its immediate aftermath forever changed American politics and opened the door, so to speak, for conspiracies to become the explanation behind all things, like the War in Iraq or increased local property taxes. Like most conspiracy theories, those who harp on the JFK assassination like to fit the fact to their views.

Here are some videos about that day:

High School Friday Nights: Ware Shoals and Abbeville fall, Dorman-Byrnes rematch set

It was a cold night down in Ware Shoals at Tommy Davis Field where the Ware Shoals Hornets hosted the Blue Devils of Williston-Elko for the Class A-II Upper State Championship. There was a big crowd despite the cold and a good many new faces from the media and law enforcement on hand for the game.

Though technically playing for the Upper State title, Williston-Elko, from the lower part of Aiken County and upper part of Barnwell County, plays in a lower state conference. The new playoff system for Division A put W-E in the upper state. Simply put, in the Class A division, the upstate has far fewer schools than the lower state and thus the talent and competition at that level is better in the lower state.

Apparently Coach Jeff Murdock and Ware Shoals realized that and scheduled bigger teams in the non conference part of their schedule to prepare for the more talented teams from the lower state in A football. Unfortunately, the Hornets came up short Friday night, falling 40-32.

Ware Shoals showed heart and had a tremendous performance on offense, including Darius Hawthorne's three touchdowns, 178 yards rushing and 73 yards receiving. Williston-Eiko's offense was running on all cylinders as well, as it as been all season. In Friday night's game, W-E came up with some new blocking schemes employing the tight end position. When two teams are clicking on all cylinders, mistakes make the difference. Ware Shoals simply could not overcome two interceptions and a blocked punt.

Williston-Elko will be denied their chance to avenge their only loss of the season as Scott's Branch defeated Blackville-Hilda, 24-22, setting up a match between W-E and Scott's Branch in Orangeburg for the Class A-II title next Friday afternoon.

The choice of South Carolina State University for the Class A title games looks to be a wise one as two other teams in the eastern part of South Carolina will face one another for the Class A-I title next Friday. Steve Tanneyhill's Chesterfield team will meet Carver's Bay for that title.

In Class AA, action, Woodruff downed Abbeville, 38-21, defying the conventional wisdom that a passing team can not defeat a running team in the playoffs. Woodruff's Jake Lambert threw for 313 yeards and three touchdowns as the Wolverines defeated previously undefeated Abbeville on Dennis Botts Field. Woodruff hosts Central next Friday night for the Upper State AA title.

In class AAA action, D.W. Daniel will host Chester for the upper state title next Friday, while Marlboro County hosts Myrtle Beach for the title. If D.W. Daniel wins the upper state, one can be assured that the lower state champion will not be happy with having to go to Clemson to play in D.W. Daniel's backyard. The very politically motivated move of the state championship games in AA and above to Clemson will likely face fierce criticism.

In AAAA-II action, the semi-finals will feature a surprising Laurens team having to travel down to South Pointe and an upper midlands regional match up with Lancaster traveling to Northwestern.

However, it is the Big Sixteen, or Class AAAA-I, where the big game will be next Friday. Two nationally ranked teams will square off for a rematch when James F. Byrnes travels to Dorman next Friday night. The power of the Byrnes program is legendary over the past few years. Pundits and fans alike heaped praises upon Byrnes as they took on big time foes from other states. Then, Byrnes lost to Dorman. After that, both teams rolled over their competition, setting up a semi-final rematch that seems more like a state championship game and makes the other semi-final match up involving Rock Hill at Sumter seem like an afterthought. Rumors are that some are trying to change the venue of the game from Dorman to Wofford College to better accommodate the large crowd expected. Wherever that game is played, VUI plans to be there.

Friday night was cold and mixed results for the VUI staff. Our favorites, Ware Shoals and Abbeville, lost. However, any high school football fan can not help but be excited about next week's showdown between Dorman and James F. Byrnes. That will be a game in which legends are made.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Anderson County Council faces a defining time

As the old council has offered a deal to settle with the controversial Joey Preston, a new era is upon Anderson County. Will the new council move forward with a conservative agenda that is pro-growth, or will they spend more taxpayer money and time on personal vendettas?

When Republican primary voters ousted three incumbent Republicans last June, they did so over taxes. No Republican who votes for a any type of tax increase fairs well in a Republican primary. One can count on one hand the number of Republicans who have survived such a thing. The credit card and other issues related to Preston's administration were the icing on the cake. However, the cake itself was made up tax increases. To underscore that point, general election voters rejected the one cent sales tax increase.

Based upon old alignments and assumed new alignments, the Wilson-Waldrep faction with hold a 5-2 majority. It would do damage to the county and be a huge political mistake if that faction used their new found power to spend one dime on a witch hunt about the past. Instead, they should use their power to bring conservative, pro-growth government to Anderson County starting on day one.

The new council should first set clear controls on expense accounts and credit card usage. Forget about who got what documents last year. Instead, council should set broad, clear controls as a matter of county policy. The same should be done for vendor contracts with the county. We conservatives can not waste our time pointing fingers about the past. There is simply no time for that. We can demand our council set county policies clearly in such matters.

Second, the new council should look at dramatically reducing spending for some programs or eliminating them all together. The first item that comes to mind is the Anderson County Park Police. While I am sure the people who for the park police are all dedicated employees, it is redundant to have such a force in a county the size of Anderson. Let the Sheriff handle such matters. Further, a plan to make the Anderson County Museum privately funded should be initiated at once. That is just the start of the list. However, the point is more money will be saved if the new council acts to make real changes instead of worrying about Preston.

Third, the current plan and spending for economic development should be closely reviewed. When Laurens County gets the ICAR plant project, it is clear what Anderson County is doing is not working right now. Spending for economic development needs to be streamlined, targeted, and coordinated with the South Carolina Department of Commerce. Every council member should be able to know how every single penny of economic development money is spent, providing policy provisions are made that insure the council members keep that information confidential and face criminal charges if they use such for their own advantage.

Fourth, the new council should offer county officials a year by year contract only. Perhaps to provide some incentive for talent, a set of goals could be listed to be met for assured renewal. It needs to be county policy that no employee's contract should exceed two or three years. That is how we truly avoid another Preston situation.

Fifth, when it comes budget time next spring, the new council needs to put first things first. Essential services need to be funded, then things like pet projects in one's district and other programs. The recreation and paving accounts need to be eliminated. Those accounts are nothing more than political slush funds. If a project is truly needed in a district, it should rest with a council member to convince his or her fellow members that the project is needed, not rely upon a set aside slush fund that is rubber stamped by the council.

Sixth, council needs to make a clear policy that appointees by a member to boards and commissions should come from within that member's district. That is the only way to make sure people in the county get equal representation on such boards and commissions without question.

It is indeed a defining time in Anderson County. Will the new council act on the matters above, or will they stall reform and dwell on Mr. Preston. If the new council does the latter, we will know that all they are after is making sure their faction now gets theirs as Mr. Preston's did over the years. We will know the new council does not give a whit about us.

High School Friday Night Preview: Williston Elko at Ware Shoals

There will be a huge Class A match up in Ware Shoals later tonight as Williston-Elko pays a visit to the Ware Shoals Hornets. The Hornets, 8-4, host the visiting Williston-Elko team (11-1). Ware Shoals played a tough non-conference schedule but have been rolling up the wins lately. Williston-Elko defeated various non conference and conference foes, but lost three weeks ago to Blackville-Hilda.

Williston-Elko brings in an imperfect spread. As one Christ Church player told VUI, the Williston-Elko team seems to have no organized team at all, but they found a way to win and be 11-1. Ware Shoals, on the other hand, still relies upon its ole fashioned wing-tee offense and straight discipline.

Two very different teams will clash Friday night in Ware Shoals. VUI will be there and bring you details as the two Class A Division II teams fight it out for the Upper State championship. The weather will be downright cold, but VUI is betting the action will be hot enough to keep the fans warm.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tumpity Tump Tump, is Tumpy on his way?

In one of the most self-serious remarks of the 2010 Governor's race, Tumpy Campbell, son of the legend Carroll Campbell, all but threw his hat in the ring.

Such would be truly noteworthy if Tumpy had the record of his legendary father going into the race. Carroll Campbell was one helluva man. Campbell was a state senator, a Governor's Chief of Staff and a Congressman when he sought the Governor's chair. The late Governor was instrumental in building up the Republican Party in South Carolina when being a Republican was not popular. The late Governor was both a leader and team player.

It is out of the tremendous respect for Carroll Campbell, Jr, the late Governor, that I only remark that Tumpy Campbell's resume is light compared to his fathers or to the others expressing interest in the Governor's race. I will not use the harshly negative rhetoric employed by other political bloggers.

Perhaps Tumpy Campbell should take note of the examples by the Thurmond sons. Paul Thurmond and Strom Thurmond, Jr., share their legendary father's love of politics. However, they sought their first elective offices at the local level, like their father did. Paul was elected to Charleston County Council. Strom, Jr. was recently elected to the Solicitor's post in Aiken County. Both men wisely declined making their first bid for office statewide.

Of course, some will point to the Bush brothers as sons of a famous Republican to win statewide. However, Tumpy and everyone else should note that George W. Bush had ran and lost for Congress, and had been a popular general manager of the Texas Rangers baseball team before he ran for Governor of Texas. Jeb Bush served as a Florida insurance commissioner before he ran for Governor. Both men paid dues.

By comparison, Tumpy's resume is light. All he has is a controversial stint on the Ports Authority and no elective office. His brother Mike's defeat for Lt. Governor should have made clear that even people with great last names ought not reach for the brass ring before they are due.

Tumpy Campbell ought to do himself a favor and do the hard work of building up a resume and a base before he reaches for the Governor's office.

Again, this post is hard to write. Governor Campbell was one of my heroes. All I am asking is that Tumpy think about his father and how his father worked through the ranks to earn respect before he became Governor. That is the right way to do it. Shoot, regardless of what you think of the outgoing President Bush, even he had to get beat for Congress and turn around the Texas Rangers baseball club before he was a viable candidate for Governor of a state.

Tumpy should ask no less of himself. Rumors are Henry Brown might not run in 2010. Maybe that seat is best for Tumpy to seek. Then, in 2014, Governor might not make political bloggers laugh.

Things have been crazier

People lament about the aura around some Barack Obama supporters. Even in my home of Anderson County, there are people who are irrationally passionate about things that make no sense.

However, none of that even comes close to what happened thirty years ago today when the phrase, "drank the kool aid," began.

Over 900 people either committed suicide in following their leader or were murdered. Among the murdered was a United States Congressman who went to "Jonestown" Guyana to check on some of his constituents and take some back home to California with him.

It is a reminder for all us to remember, that faith without reason in politicians or religious leaders is dangerous. God gave us the ability of reason for a reason: to protect ourselves from other humans. That applies to politics and religion. Though we all tend to act under the influence of money and other forces, it is our ability to reason that keeps us from such events.

See the related video.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Breaking News: Preston out in Anderson County

Just a few moments ago, VUI got word that by a 5-2 vote, Anderson County Council voted to buyout the contract of Administrator Joey Preston and send him on his way. More details as they come in. An era of division in Anderson politics appears to be coming to an end.

Update: Council just named Micheal Cunningham the new Administrator. At least Mr. Cunningham will be administrator until January. Who knows what the new council will do.

Another Update: As expected by some, all political Hell seems to be breaking loose over tonight's moves by county council. People are talking lawsuits and criminal charges. How unfortunate. The anti-Preston folks have won. Preston is gone. We can now move on a with a conservative pro-growth agenda. Cindy Wilson and her crew are acting like the dog that finally caught the car. They have no idea what to do next other than to talk about getting that damn car. Preston's gone, people. Celebrate, don't hate.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The High School and small college basketball report

As the High School football season winds down, we at Voting under the Influence will still be interested in sports as well as politics. I know that pains some of you political purists. However, we are about to be entering basketball season. As such, Voting under the Influence plans on offering the Voting under the Influence High School and Small College Basketball Report on a weekly basis beginning around Thanksgiving. Politics is not our only bag here. And, hey at least we don't post semi porno pics to get a high number of clicks. We keep it real and clean.

Get 'em, Jim DeMint

Every now and then, you find a politician that is worthy of full support. From his common sense approach to taxes via the Fair Tax to his recent statements about failed Presidential candidate John McCain, Jim DeMint proves he is one of those politicians.

The Fair Tax that DeMint supported when he ran for his seat in 2004 was laughed at by liberals. They laughed because it went against things that those liberals stood for and groups that they gave a free pass to. The consumption tax would make illegals pay their fair share, and also give American businesses a fighting chance against global competition. The only losers would be the illegals who avoid paying for government services and the highly paid lobbyists who work sweetheart deals for their clients. Liberals laughed because DeMint stood with the people.

DeMint stood with the people again recently in Myrtle Beach, when he spoke truth about the defects of former Republican Presidential nominee John McCain. According to CNN, Senator DeMint remarked:

"McCain, who is proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations and basically put George Soros in the driver's seat," DeMint said. "His proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election. And he has been an opponent of drilling in ANWR, at a time when energy is so important. It really didn't fit the label, but he was our package."

Amen, Senator DeMint, amen. You seem to be the last of the true common sense conservative Republicans left in Washington. Thank the Good Lord you arefrom South Carolina. Mark Sanford can't be nuts enough to run against such a man. Let's hope the rumors that Sanford is going to challenge you are just high hopes from Sanford supporters. Go get 'em Jim DeMint. Thank you for the good job you are doing in Washington.

High School Friday and Saturday nights

The rain and thunderstorms forced some high schools to move their Friday night games to Saturday night. Nevertheless, it was a fun and defining weekend for South Carolina High School League football.

We at Voting under the Influence were present at the state quarterfinal match up between Ware Shoals and Great Falls on Saturday night. Before the game, the Great Falls team was down in the opposing end zone talking some serious trash talk to Ware Shoals fans along the end zone fence and a couple were even making some rather unflattering gestures against the goal post. You might could call those gestures efforts to make love. The smack talk continued from some Great Falls players even as the crowd was asked to observe a moment of silence for John Ed Williams, father of Ware Shoals offensive line coach Sanford Williams, who passed away this week. Frankly, the pregame behavior was a disgrace to the fine tradition of Great Falls. (It made me want to take my old arthritic body and suit up and hit somebody!) We at VUI will simply chalk it up as kids being perhaps a little bit over motivated for the game. After all, if you follow high school and college sports, you have to keep in mind they are just kids.

That pregame fire did lead Great Falls down the field early and give them an early lead. However late in the second quarter, trailing 15-12, high school football fans learned that arguably the most conservative coach in Class A football, Jeff Murdock, can have a wild streak. He had his Hornets line up for a field goal, only to fake it and have Ladarius Hawthorne make a 9 yard TD strike to put the Hornets up 18-15 at the half. Indeed, throughout the game, Murdock found the pass more than expected and had a great player in Hawthorne. Hawthorne passed for one TD, rushed for 115 yards and two TDs, and caught the ball for 133 yards and another TD.

The end result was Ware Shoals winning, 31-21, and members of the trash talking Great Falls team were actually lying upon the field after the game.

Christ Church did not get over their quarterfinal hump, losing at home to Williston-Elko by a score of 21-14, thus Williston-Elko will travel to Ware Shoals next Friday night to decide the Class A-II Upper State champion. The winner will play the winner of Scott's Branch and Blackville-Hilda in Orangeburg on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

In other games on the high school level, several issues were decided. Here's the short comments about them.

In Class AAAA-I, the living legend's Summerville team got whipped by the Gaffney Indians, 40-10. Both Byrnes and Dorman rolled to first round wins.

T.L. Hanna got its hats handed to them by Goose Creek, 28-2.

Marlboro County whipped South Aiken, 47-14 in a Class AAA clash.

Scott's Branch dealt traditional power Timmonsville a 30-24 playoff loss. Blackville-Hilda downed Lake View.

Abbeville got over the second round jinx, with a 35-27 win over Mid-Carolina on Friday night in a game delayed by thunderstorms. Abbeville will face Woodruff, who won a Saturday showdown with Batesburg-Leesville, 28-21.

Steve Taneyhill's Chesterfield team soundly whipped Ninety-Six and looks poised to take the Class A-I crown. They will deal with Bamberg-Earhardt next Friday.

Regardless of the weather and delays, it was another strong weekend for high school football. One that has little towns around the state both thrilled and disappointed. Even though I am an old basketball player and coach, I recognize how much high school football means to to so many around the state. And let's face it, with the major colleges charging us more to watch them, the economy uncertain, the best bang for your football buck is at the high school level. VUI will be at the Upper State Class A-II championship on Friday and at the state championships. Forgive us, but we will admit we hope to be following the Ware Shoals Hornets to Orangeburg and then the Abbeville Panthers to Clemson. However, that will not stop us from calling it like we see it as the playoffs work out. All that said, who knew Murdock had that wild streak in him? It seems Great Falls did not.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Beware the Bear

Over the past two months Americans have been preoccupied with the Bear market. However, the Russian Bear is back, and making bold moves upon the election of President-elect Obama.

The Kremlin announced a state trip by puppet President Dmitry Medvedev to Cuba. The state trip coincides with the offer to once again strengthen ties with Cuba and the Kremlin's move to sale weapons and share military drills with Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.

Those moves by the Russians come after earlier moves this year that have been disturbing internationally. First, they dramatically opposed the missile defense system President Bush proposed for Europe. Though it is clear the Bush Administration meant to protect Europe for a missile attack from Iran, the Russian response was a troubling indicator of their fears and perhaps their future intentions. Add to that the manufactured issues surrounding the Russian invasion of Georgia, and one quickly sees that the Bear is back to his old business.

Add to that the discard for rule of law politically inside Russia. Before Prime Minister Putin handed over the Presidency of Russia over to his lackey Medvedev, Putin had many powers moved to the Prime Minister's post. Now, the Russian legislative body is passing laws that expand the Presidential term and pave the way for Medvedev to resign and allow Putin to come back to power.

Russia has historically had "strong men" rule domestically with an iron fist and little regard for what the West things of as the rule of law. Normally, that should not really concern the United States. However, the Russians are taking a menacing approach to Europe and stirring up trouble in the backyard of the United States.

There are several factors at play. First, the unpopularity of President Bush around the world opened the door for the Russians to act again. Then there is Putin's racism. On several occasions, Putin displayed a complete lack of respect for the people of Africa. He once said he did not care if Africans killed one another in Darfur. One can conclude he has little respect for an African-American in the White House. The politically incorrect truth about the Kremlin is that is filled with white elitists who look down on other races. They perceive the election of Barak Obama as sign of weakness.

Of course, the new aggressive Russia is not just because of Obama's election. President Bush is to blame as well. While Bush got the threat of Islamic terrorists and acted well, he missed Putin and Russia. When Bush met Putin and said he "looked into his eyes and saw the soul of a good man," Bush read those eyes wrong. I imagine Putin was delighted in the remark.

Then came replacing Bush with Obama. The combined events gave Putin the notion it was time to take on the United States again. President-elect Obama and his team will have a tough task ahead of them. They not only have to deal with terrorism, but they have a very dangerous threat from that old Russian Bear and its strong man at hand. Add to that China.

What the United States seems to face is a situation like 1968. Upon the election of Richard Nixon that year, the United States was tired of war and an economic and energy crisis loomed. The United States took the Kissinger approach to foreign policy. It acted less idealistically and more pragmatically to defend its security in order to gain its footing again to win idealistically in the 1980s and 1990s. President-elect Obama and his team will have to make some unsavory choices in the next four years to protect the United States. Idealist dreams will just not do. Appointing a realist, such as Governor Bill Richardson, as Secretary of State, a man who has served diplomatically under both Clinton and Bush, would be an indicator to the world the United States is shifting to a more pragmatic role in defending its interests. An appointment to that post for domestic political approval by the President-elect will only embolden the Bear more.

Still, the President-elect and his team had better beware the bear.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bobby Harrell's House

I have always been a fan of the South Carolina House of Representatives. Though I realize that redistricting affects voting results, I have appreciated how the House of Representatives, was in theory, the closest to the people. Every two years the members of the House have to face the people in primaries and general elections. Every two years, the people have a chance to dramatically change the course of their state government.

However, I as a Republican, I am still no fan of what the Republican House leadership is trying to do to the South Carolina House of Representatives. It bothered me when the SC House leadership scoffed at Rep. Nikki Haley's efforts to make votes open and recorded. Though I have mixed feelings about Ms. Haley, on that matter, she was correct. The more open the House is about its votes, the better. After all, the House is the institution meant to best reflect the will of the people. For the people to know what their will should be, the House should let the sun shine in on its processes.

Now, there is an effort among the Republican leadership to allow Speaker Bobby Harrell to appoint committee chairmen instead of allowing committee members to elect their chairman. We are told that measure will protect Republicans.

However, that measure smacks in the face of Republican ideals. First, we have always been a party that claimed that the will of the people is paramount. Nothing is more paramount than the people's elected representatives being allowed to choose who leads them on committees. Second, we have always been a party against centralized power. Giving Speaker Harrell unprecedented power over who is chairman of what committee flies in the face of that belief.

Further, I just do not buy the argument that giving the Speaker power to appoint committee chairmen protects Republicans. I think instead, it protects Republicans that are allied with the Speaker. That is not a conservative position to take. That is not a liberal position to take. It is a "give power to Speaker Harrell" position.

The past two South Carolina House Speakers, Sheheen of the Democrats and Wilkins of the Republicans, were powerful men. Neither asked for such an expansion of their powers. Instead they were both confident in their abilities to influence the men and women in the House to their point of view.

When you combine Speaker Harrell's opposition to his own party member's quest for open and recorded votes and this reach for more power, any decent South Carolinian who respects the role of the House and any decent Republican who respects the ideals of Republican government has to ask, "is this the type of leadership we want representing us?"

High School Friday Nights kicks into high gear

It is mid November, there is a nip in the air, and it is time for South Carolina's high school football teams to win or go home. This Friday night is Week One of the AAAA-I and AAAA-II playoffs and Week Two of the other divisions.

There are several match ups around the state worth laying down a few bucks to watch. We will offer a quick highlight of what is on the menu Friday night.

In Class AAAA-I, known as the "Big 16," nearly every game on the schedule for the night is interesting. In this division you have nationally ranked teams such as Dorman and Byrnes and the legendary John McKissick's Summerville team. The most interesting game to me will be in Summerville as the Gaffney Indians invade the lowcountry for a showdown with the winningest coach in high school history. Both Gaffney and Summerville are steeped in tradition and are year in year out powers. The four hour ride down to Summerville might take something out of the Indians, but a showdown between a legendary coach and legendary team is not one to miss.

In Class AAAA-II, there are interesting match ups as well. T.L. Hanna taking a long trip down to Goose Creeks grabs my attention. The Yellow Jackets, made famous by the movie "Radio" have a proud tradition. However, Goose Creek has a solid program that should turn down the sound of the Yellow Jackets.

In Class AAA, a lower state showdown tops my list of games to watch. South Aiken travels to Marlboro County. Marlboro County was once in the AAAA class, and did well in that class, but have been moved down to AAA. At their home games, it seems like the entire population of Marlboro County turns out. South Aiken is no slouch team, though, so this one will be one to watch.

In Class AA, there are a couple of games in the upstate that are worth watching. One involves two legendary programs with Batesburg-Leesville traveling to Woodruff. Woodruff takes pride in their football, and former coach Willie Varner is on the top ten list of wins of high school coaches in the country. The entire town of Woodruff rallies behind their beloved Wolverines. The same can be said for Batesburg-Leesville. Though some know the town for its dueling barbecue joints, Shealy's and Hite's, the B-L teams get the job done on the field. If smaller level football is your preference, you can't get a better game.

The other AA game that interests me is Mid Carolina at Abbeville. It interests me because I wonder just how good Abbeville is. The Panthers are undefeated and some are calling them the best complete team in the state right now. However, I think Mid Carolina might present them with some problems. How Abbeville deals with those problems will show just how good they are.

Moving on to Class A-I, the most intriguing game is Ninety-Six at Chesterfield. You know Chesterfield's coach, former Gamecock standout Steve Tanneyhill. Tanneyhill has built an impressive program at Chesterfield and it will line up against a Ninety-Six team that lost only to Abbeville at home and Ware Shoals on the road. It would surprise me if there were not a lot of points scored in this one. Both teams have big play offenses.

Class A-II brings us four games that all have promise to be great ones. In the upper state, Williston-Elko travels to Christ Church and Great Falls travels to Ware Shoals. Those games are right out of a novel. Christ Church has had several solid regular seasons, but has failed to make a deep playoff run. Ware Shoals and Great Falls are two little towns with a proud history that have both fallen on hard economic times. Both Ware Shoals and Great Falls produced All-Americans at Clemson. Ware Shoals gave Clemson Jerry Butler. Great Falls gave Clemson Banks McFadden, a two sport All-American. Both towns are old mill towns.

In the lower state A-II, traditional power Timmonsville travels to Scott's Branch and Lake View travels to Blackville-Hilda. Again, those games are good showdowns between proud communities who are passionate about their teams.

In short, despite the calls for a rainy cool night Friday, the games in the South Carolina High School League will be worth going to watch. There is going to be a lot of hard hitting, passion, and gamesmanship on display.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Howard Stern's Harlem Voters segment

I am not a big fan of Howard Stern, however, this news segment he did about the reasoning of voters in Harlem is interesting.

Listen to it and judge for yourself.

The long term GOP health will come from Governors

Is fitting that the Republican Governor's Association is meeting this week. Not since the 1960s have Republicans needed bold and fresh ideas coming from the states for political viability. Simply put, the future of the Republican Party in the United States will not come from Washington, it will come from the states and a governor.

Though things look bleak now for the Republican Party in Washington, there are several Republican Governors, or ex-Governors, that look like future party leaders to get the party back on track. Indeed, the Republican Governors have a deep bench in waiting. Obviously, there is Alaska's Sarah Palin. Add to her name Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Mississippi's Haley Barbour, former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and yes, even our own Mark Sanford shows up on some lists.

The Republican Governors have an opportunity to make a name for themselves at the state level and show how Republican ideals can work for all people in their states.

Modern history shows that is where strong Republican leaders come from. With the exception of General Dwight Eisenhower, every Republican President who served more than four years in office has been a former Governor. Theodore Roosevelt assumed the Presidency in 1901 as Vice President, but was Governor or New York before being elected Vice-President. Roosevelt was elected for four more years in 1904. Calvin Coolidge assumed the Presidency in 1923 upon the death of Warren G. Harding, however, Coolidge had made his bona fides in state government and as Governor of Massachusetts. Coolidge won four more years in 1924, despite the Harding controversies, because of Coolidge's no nonsense reputation won as a Governor. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 as a former Governor of California and won re-election in 1984. Outgoing President George W. Bush was Governor of Texas when elected in 2000.

So it makes historical sense that among those Governors meeting in Miami this week is a potential reviver of the Republican Party and President of the United States. Now more than ever, the future of the Republican Party lies outside of Washington, not within in.

Georgia on my mind

The short term future of the Republican Party might come down the United States Senate runoff on December 2nd in Georgia. If Democrats knock off Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman in the other two officially undecided races, Georgia’s runoff will be the last hope the Republican Party holding a filibuster minority. Lose all three, and the Democrats can do whatever they desire in Congress with the Republicans unable to stall them.

In South Carolina, Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss would be re-elected. Chambliss got 49.8 percent of the vote against Democrat Jim Martin and other candidates. However, Georgia requires its elected officials to receive 50 percent plus one vote. Thus, we get a holiday season showdown in the Peach State.

It is a showdown. President-elect Obama has dispatched 100 of his top grassroots workers to Georgia to assist Martin. Mike Huckabee and John McCain are scheduled to make appearances for Chambliss. Sarah Palin might get involved. Huckabee won the Georgia primary. The McCain-Palin ticket scored over 52 percent of the vote on Election Day.

With Norm Coleman in Minnesota up by only 200 votes, and Stevens in Alaska behind by 800 as votes are being counted and recounted, Georgia in on the mind of both parties. For, it could be there that the Democrats get a filibuster proof majority for the first time in decades, or the Republican Party starts their comeback.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just say "no" to more bailouts

The so called “Big Three” of American automakers are in trouble. As such those automakers, General Motors (Chevy), especially, are pushing the Congress and the President-elect to act now to pump federal money into them to keep them afloat. It is appealing on the surface to keep those companies in business, but should it be done?

First, the United States government only has so much money it can keep pumping to failing businesses. The average American taxpayer is already leery of such bailouts, because it seems big business is finding loopholes to make sure their executives get huge golden parachutes and still have polices that benefit management more than the stockholders or the consumers overwhelmingly.

That is the cancer on American business, and no amount of money from the government can fix it.

As for the domestic auto industry, big management and big unions combined together for some rather financially stupid results. Let’s start with management. While firms like Toyota were looking an innovations to the products that they offered, firms like General Motors relied upon making money off big SUVs. When energy prices soared, their sales dipped. That is business. In a free market economy, the business who did not innovate should not be rewarded with a bailout.

Then there are the unions, primarily the United Auto Workers. The UAW simply demanded things like pensions and health care for retired workers that simply do not work in today’s global economy. Indeed, it is hard for the guy who works for another business to understand why his taxes have to go up or the debt on his children’s future has to go up to pay for people to make more money in retirement and have better health benefits than he does as he works. Just because the UAW has good lobbyists and the ear of the President-elect does not mean that its members are entitled to live off the sweat of the people who work hard everyday.

Make no mistake; the Democrats are pushing for the automotive industry bailout because of the UAW. The Democrats simply can not allow an American business to fail because a union demanded and received unrealistic terms in this global economy. The essence of the liberal political philosophy is on the line with the domestic automakers. The Democrats on Capital Hill and the President-elect simply will spend billions to make sure that the UAW is not blamed for a major American business failure.

The problem with that, of course, is it allows American business to remain weak in competitiveness. The Republicans do the same, of course, when they bailout the big management losers at companies like AIG.

I say, let the automakers fail. Then perhaps, finally, there will be a discussion of how modern American business is a failure. Modern American business worries about things like college degrees and where they are from instead of productivity. Modern American business worries more about taking care of management instead of the shareholders such management supposedly serves. American business is filled with financial magicians who cook the books for the short term and do not worry about long term business health as long as they get their bonuses.

The free market has a way of dealing with such businesses that do not perform. It lets them fail and other businesses that are more productive, sounder in their reasoning and more long term in their planning thrive. Perhaps it will be better for the long term health of the American economy if we just say “no” to more bailouts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day and a little history

First, a hearty "thank you" goes out to all who have served in the armed forces of the United States. I hope everyone pauses to remember that without the sacrifice of the veterans and their families, we would not enjoy the freedoms we have today.

That said, it is fitting to note that this is the 90th anniversary of the date of November 11th being celebrated on the calender in the United States and Europe.

The day was originally called Armistice Day, in honor of the cease fire signed at the end of World War I that ended hostilities on the ground at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. After World War II, the day became known as Veteran's Day in the United States and honored all veterans.

As we are at what will likely be the last landmark anniversary of the date with any surviving veterans of World War I, it is again fitting to look at that war and what those veterans went through.

First, according the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, there are only four known living veterans of World War I in the United States. They are John Babcock, 102, from Puget Sound, Wash.; Frank Buckles, 106, Charles Town, W.Va.; Russell Coffey, 108, North Baltimore, Ohio; and Harry Landis, 107, Sun City Center, Fla. That appears to be the only living witnesses to World War I in the United States.

In today's times, we tend to forget the horrors of the past. World War I created more carnage than humanity had ever seen at the time. Not even the American Civil War could rival the carnage. World War I was a stalemate that created trench warfare, the use of the airplane in war, the use of the tank in war, and the use of weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, it was the use of the later, primarily in the form of mustard gas, that made the world almost united against the use of chemical weapons.

The issue was not decided until a reluctant United States entered the war on the side of Great Britain and France against Germany and the Central Powers. Though only on the fields for a little over a year, American forces made a big difference at the cost of lives, limbs, and an innocence forever lost by so many of its young men.

Then President Woodrow Wilson made the decision to enter the war based on his belief that it was necessary to make the world safe for democracy. The American public was not fully behind the war and were certainly not behind whatever measures Wilson thought necessary to make a lasting peace. Wilson so passionately believed in his ideals that he steamed to Europe on a ship and spent six months in France negotiating a treaty that he thought would bring peace. The problem he faced was a at home. Still filled with his zeal, Wilson barnstormed the country until he was stricken by a major stroke in Pueblo, Colorado on his speaking tour.

Isolationists in both parties seized upon Wilson's weakness and the United States never verified the treaties, such as joining the League of Nations, that Wilson thought American men died for. The American men who did come home came home to an economy in recession and to a flu epidemic. Most of them came home to no job, no parties, and someone in their family being sick.

America and Western Europe were tired of war. A great wave of pacifism swept over them. They were angry and they were disillusioned. In America, it resulted in the one of the most corrupt Presidents of the United States ever to be elected in Warren G. Harding. Harding was elected simply because he was against outgoing President Wilson. The isolationist mood in America would lead to the depleting of the national defense, the Great Depression, the rise of the Soviet Union and the rise of Nazi Germany. Even the men who fought and survived World War I would be denied their war bonuses and be forced to march on Washington demanding such, only to be put down at the orders of President Hoover.

I offer that bit of history to remind people that things are not as bad in the United States today as they have been. There are a lot of people who espouse doom and gloom for the United States today, on the right and the left. There are people who say that our veterans fought for nothing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who espouse that are simply ignorant of history and are quick to stoke fear in the hearts of Americans.

It is clear that the United States faces big challenges. However, the United States and her veterans have faced bigger challenges. If you want to honor our veterans, be sure to thank one that you know for his or her service, and also be sure to not go knocked kneed in supporting both our outgoing and incoming Presidents as they work for a long lasting peace to end the wars we are now involved in. Let's honor those four old gentlemen from World War I by not being as isolationist and afraid as the public of 1919 was about the world.

I have said before in this space that I envy no one. Well, that is not true. I envy the men and women who have served this nation in the armed services. Those men and women have an honor that no words written can ever match. I am humbled by their service. I thank each and everyone of you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Looking at the 2010 Governor's Race

I know we just finished a round of elections, but the days after an election are usually when the people running the next election begin to reach out and test the political waters. Early in 2009, the political contenders and pretenders will start their campaigns. Over the next few weeks, VUI will take a look at the higher profile races and the rumors and moves being made.

The Governor’s race will be a hotly contested one. Democrats will be emboldened by the victory of Barack Obama and the potential for fundraising the President-elect and Vice-President-elect can do for statewide candidates. I think the Democrats would best be served it they took the approach that they did in 1998, and agree on a candidate in advance and back him fully. That elected Jim Hodges. However, that might not be possible in 2010, as there are three big players involved, (assuming Inez Tennenbaum goes to serve the Obama Administration.)

The first of the Democratic contenders is Vincent Sheheen, state senator from Kershaw County. I went to law school with Sheheen. I remember him as the smartest man in the room and a guy who you would not mind having a beer with or cooking out with. Since law school, Sheheen has built an impressive resume of service. Further, Sheheen comes from a family with long political ties in South Carolina politics. In sum, Senator Sheheen is, to me the most dangerous candidate to Republicans out there. He is young and experienced, and has an approach that is disarming. Sheheen will be far smarter than his handlers and probably smarter than his opponents. Don’t underestimate this guy.

Another contender with a disarming approach and good resume, including service in Iraq, is Rep. James Smith of Richland County. Like Sheheen, Smith has characteristics that might serve him well if the public suffers from Sanford fatigue after the Governor’s constant clashes with the General Assembly.

The one possible contender that the Republican Party should embrace is Jim Rex. That is nothing personal against Mr. Rex, but since his close election to the post of Superintendent of Education, Mr. Rex has become a lightening rod of criticism and fund raising for the right. While Mark Sanford’s out of state fund raisers are sure to contribute money to the 2010 races, if Jim Rex is the Democratic nominee, Democrats can expect that support to be highly motivated. Rex’s nomination would guarantee one a costly and bitter campaign.

That brings us to the Big 3 Republicans.

The first is Attorney General Henry McMaster. After years of being a party operative, McMaster found his niche as Attorney General. As such, McMaster has received praise from the right and the left. However, one wonders which Henry McMaster will show up for 2010? Will it be the respected Attorney General, or the campaigner who spouts off a little too much? I also fear some of McMaster’s eccentricities could hurt him in a high profile race like Governor. However, McMaster will have the Quinn operation behind him, and that operation is formidable. Add to that the good reputation McMaster has with the public and he is the slight favorite going into the primary. But, can he win a likely runoff? Can he win the general against a new style candidate like Sheheen or Smith? I just do not know.

The second big Republican contender is Congressman Gresham Barrett. Barrett is my Congressman, and frankly, I find him to be a nice guy. However, in statewide politics, being a nice guy might not be enough. Barrett did what he had to do to set himself up for the race by trouncing his Democratic opponent last Tuesday, while fellow Republicans Joe Wilson and Henry Brown endured relatively close victories. However, Barrett has no key accomplishment in office to point to, and that could hurt. On the upside, Barrett is rumored to be the favorite of the Sanford supporters and that will ensure Barrett is well funded. But, Barrett is from the upstate and that might not sell well on the coast, where most SC primaries and elections are decided.

That brings us to Lt. Governor Andre Bauer. The Lt. Governor once indicated he was not going to run for Governor. That has changed. Consider the Lt. Governor in the race. Though he cites Charleston as his hometown, the Lt. Governor represented the midlands of South Carolina in the House and Senate before becoming Lt. Governor. As such, the Lt. Governor built strong ties with the Shealy/Lexington County operation that delivered big for Jake Knotts and Joe Wilson this year and for the Lt. Governor in his primary runoff in 2006. Further, the Lt. Governor has a personal touch and has used his office to continue to reach out to voters, especially senior voters. If I were a Democrat, I would worry about Bauer more than anyone else. Bauer, like Sheheen is both young and experienced, has a track record of working with people in the General Assembly, and has a record of simply outworking his opponents.

The Republicans seemed determined to fight this thing out in a primary. If that happens, I see McMaster with a ticket to the runoff, with Bauer and Barrett fighting to join the Attorney General. I think Bauer has the early edge.

If the Democrats decide to fight it out, I think Rex gets in a runoff, with Smith and Sheheen fighting for the other spot. Call that one a tossup.

However, if the Republicans fight it out and the Democrats somehow find a way to decided on either Sheheen or Smith as their nominee without a fight, we Republicans will be in for a tough fight for the Governor’s office.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Remembering Reagan

It was almost 28 years ago, but there was a time in which America elected a President who knew that government is what held the people back. Watch and enjoy the nostalgia.

Obama's first gaffe

If Barack Obama needed an indicator that life is different for a President compared to a candidate, he got it on Friday. Obama made an attempt at humor about Nancy Reagan and seances. Of course, Mrs. Reagan did not hold seances in the White House. That was Mary Todd Lincoln's pet activity. Before the the day was over, Obama made a call to apologize to Mrs. Reagan. From various press accounts, Mrs. Reagan accepted the President-elect's apology and had a good conversation with the President-elect.

Regardless, the gaffe served notice to President-elect Obama that his words now mean more than ever. It is that fact that perhaps made a once glib Governor of Texas seemed unsure and halted in his speech once he became President.

Below is a video of the President-elect's first gaffe.

There's always Goodridge, Minnesota

Just when I was fed up with how local races were ran in South Carolina, along comes the Town of Goodridge, Minnesota, population 98. According WCCO TV in Minnesota, no one filed to run for Mayor of Goodridge. Bob Homme and Dave Brown each got 22 write-in votes. Brown became Mayor for the next two years by winning a coin toss.

It is not known if either candidate had lawyers to supervise the coin toss, test the weight of the coins involved, or if they paid consultants to tell the best way in which to toss the coin for a favorable result.

It appears Homme will not ask for a re-toss.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Happy 90th Birthday, Reverand Billy Graham

Perhaps the greatest evangelist in history, Rev. Billy Graham, turned 90 on Friday. Graham's life has been an incredible journey. Starting a poor boy in eastern North Carolina, Graham, by following God's Will for him, rose from a door to door brush salesman to an evangelist respected by heads of states around the world. Graham took the gospel to every region of the Earth and to unfriendly places. Watch the videos below to see Graham talking the gospel in unfriendly places and bringing it to people from all walks from life.

We have been fortunate to live in times that gave us the the likes of Pope John Paul II and Billy Graham.

Expect Tennenbaum to end up somewhere

With all the speculation going around about the new Obama team, one thing seems certain, former South Carolina Superintendent of Education Inez Tennenbaum will end up somewhere on the Obama team.

Insides sources tell me that Tennenbaum and her husband were close to the Obama campaign throughout the election process. Possible places for Tennenbaum to land are either Secretary of Education or Ambassador to Israel. Perhaps another post could open up for Tennenbaum. But, from what I have learned, one thing seems certain, Inez Tennenbaum will have a role in the Obama Administration if she chooses to accept it.

Of course, there are rumors about Jim Hodges and Phil Lader being considered for Obama Administration posts, but the strongest and most reliable sources point to Tennenbaum getting a nod from the President-elect. The Tennenbaums stood by Obama early in the process and that loyalty will likely be rewarded. How that trickles down to other South Carolina Democrats or South Carolina Republicans willing to work for President-elect Obama remains to be seen.

Voting breakdown: Richland County and little towns

The State newspaper reported that as many as 3800 voters in Richland County could have voted twice. While officially in The State, election officials say that such did not happen, a confidential source within Richland County told me that double voting did in fact happen.

The lapse in turnaround time in making sure poll managers knew who had already voted made the situation ripe for voter fraud. While some might ask why some would wait in line for hours more than once to vote, money and passion can motivate people.

The example in Richland County, along with some "pencil only" ballots in some local races around the state cries out for a statewide voter system that instantly records who has voted and when and how they voted. If we have "instant background checks" for gun purchases, certainly we can have instant checks to make sure that someone has not already voted.

Further, whatever legislation is necessary should be passed to put the municipal elections into the state voting system. It is incredible that people have to vote with pencils for their municipal leaders. That does not inspire confidence.

I saw firsthand the pencil paper ballots in my hometown of Honea Path. Now, while I sincerely believe that everyone involved in the election are honest people and that the elections were fair, why risk it? Why not have municipal races picked up by the computer voting machines?

We in South Carolina have a long way to go to inspire confidence in our election results.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Where the GOP goes from here

Of course, all of us wish President-elect Obama well in putting together his team to lead the executive branch. However, soon enough, the Obama honeymoon will come to an end the Republicans will have to find a meaningful and effective course in opposition. Instead of just saying what the party is against, the Republicans need to address the things that they are for.

In a recent AP news article, South Carolina's Jim Demint summed it up this way: Saying the party's image has been tainted by "scandals and broken promises," Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina declared: "We have got to clean up, reform and rebuild the Republican Party before we can ask Americans to trust us again." He called for party leaders to "embrace a bold new direction" or hit the road.

Amen, Senator DeMint. There were just too many examples of members of Congress out of control. There was too many negative ads that did nothing to promote ideas. When someone who has spent in a lifetime of public service such as Elizabeth Dole runs an ad saying her Sunday School teacher opponent does not believe in God, well, you know there is a problem.

I have written before how some of the highly paid political professionals in the GOP just do not seem to know who to deal with people. Some of the hired guns around McCain have shown that in the past couple of days with their attacks against Sarah Palin. There was once a time when a political operative treated his clients the way attorneys do and kept their mouths shut about them, win or lose. It was sort of a code of honor. I know I could have made a newspaper or two leaking something eccentric about some of the candidates I worked for in the past. I never have and never will. Why? Those people trusted me. Further to leak out personal moments with a candidate you worked for anonymously is just cowardly. I wish the media would let us know the names of those operatives so future candidates would know not to hire them.

I know about what I am speaking on that matter. As some of you in Anderson County know, even when I am attacked by a former candidate I worked for, I keep my mouth shut as best I can. I am guess am too old school when it comes to politics.

As for those McCain operatives, they blew it. You can not blame Sarah Palin on the fact that the McCain team chose not to argue for the economic plan created by professors that called for a capital gains tax cut and showed how it would help. You can not blame Sarah Palin on McCain not calling for executives on Wall Street who broke the law to be brought to justice.

As Senator Demint stated, it is time for a new day in the Republican Party. The core ideals espoused once by the likes of Goldwater and Reagan are the ideals that are best for all Americans. In fact, America is still a center-right country,as Obama ran his campaign for. In exit polls it is interesting to note that 75% of the people who voted for Obama believe he will cut their taxes and make government smaller. Obama's constant harping in ads about cutting taxes for 95% of Americans was not answered well by the GOP.

In short, Obama's victory was not great shift to the left in American politics. It appears to be a rejection of the Republican party, and its muddled message combined with poor communication that made the Republicans seem out of touch. Obama was elected as a tax cutter. That is the opportunity Republicans have if Obama fails to do so.

More later about the new Republican agenda we should embrace.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Congratulations go out first to State Senator Kevin Bryant and Rep. Don Bowen, both fought off tough fights in a tough year. Congratulations go out to Floyd Nicholson and Tony Davis, who ran two strong Democratic campaigns in Greenwood County that proved that politics is indeed local at its core.

Congratulations to the people of Anderson County for voting "no" on the capital sales tax that had turned into a pork boondoggle.

There are other tips of the hat to be given, such as to Joe Wilson for fighting off his toughest challenger yet. There are others, and perhaps over the next week or so I will point on some of the winners and losers of the night.

Of course, the final, and the biggest congratulations goes to President-elect Obama and his supporters. I will leave it to others more talented than I am to state the historical significance of an African American being elected President of the United States. I will instead praise the President-elect and his team tonight for their relentless and masterfully ran campaign. The President-elects victory actually illustrates the heart of Republican Principles in that if one has self confidence, works hard and seizes opportunity, the possibilities are endless.

I also think we as Americans should thank John McCain for his courage and service to our country and for the dignity in which he exited the Presidential race. I hope Democrats will join me acknowledging the honor and service of John McCain.

I will write more later in the week about the races, the things I saw monitoring the polls, and where I think we go from here.

For now, I am have never been prouder to be an American or to be a Republican.