Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back to the Veepstakes, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska


As speculations grows about Senator John McCain's pick for Vice President, do not be surprised to hear the name of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin come up. While only in her first term, Governor Palin has made some landmark reforms and has years as a mayor behind her as well. At age 44, she has proven to be one of the most popular governors in Alaskan history. Add to that the fact that Palin is a woman who is committed to gun rights, is a proud member of the NRA, and can identify with Southern good ole boys due the fact she is an avid outdoors woman.


With so many women voters feeling alienated by the public pronouncements by the Obama campaign that Senator Hillary Clinton is out of the running for the Vice Presidential nomination, McCain could make some inroads by selecting a woman who not only appeals to women voters, but to McCain's own political base.


Governor Palin fits that bill. Though she could only hope to geographically deliver Alaska, which usually votes for Republican presidential candidates, the Governor could be the much needed breath of fresh air to the ticket that only a young conservative woman with executive experience could be.


The McCain campaign needs something to spark it and make it go up a notch or two. That is why, for a long time, this website has advocated the nomination of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal for Vice President. However, if that can not come to pass, the McCain folks ought to look long and hard at Governor Palin of Alaska. She is an effective leader who knows the outdoors and how to handle a gun and how to appeal to Democrats and Republicans to get the job done. It just might be the right stimulus to the McCain ticket.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where does government intrusion stop?


Unless you do not follow the news at all, you know by now that the Los Angeles area was hit by a moderate earthquake on Tuesday. No major damages or injuries were reported, and life went on, especially in the halls of Los Angeles City Council.


In one of those moments that makes one thankful to live in a small town in South Carolina, Los Angeles City Council issued a one year moratorium on new fast food establishments in low income neighborhoods. From various reports, it seems the city council out there is just tired of overweight poor people, and in their idea of wisdom, if they can deter new fast food establishments from being created, they will help poor people eat healthy. (All these years, I wondered why Ronald McDonald hid behind a painted face! That rascal is out to make poor folks fat!)


As other agencies were going through a good test of their emergency procedures, Los Angeles City Council was trying to put the brakes on poor people eating Whoppers. It is a strange strand of the socialistic nature of California politics that raised its head in that ordinance. Of course, California did give us Speaker Nancy Pelosi and that nutcase Harry Waxman, and Maxine Waters, who once said that the CIA was dealing drugs to blacks in her district.


But, going after people who sell food because lower income people like the prices and buy it is, well, incredibly arrogant and on some degree even above California nuts.


Further let's talk about those "fast food" establishments. After losing nearly 90 pounds, I sort of feel qualified about how to eat and not eat. I read labels, go to establishment websites, and choose wisely. I am also not wealthy by any standard of the word. If you go to Subway and get a tuna sandwich on whole wheat, or a club on whole wheat, you will do well. Go the same place and get a meatball sub with extra bacon and chase it down with two servings of real soft drink and some cookies, you are not doing well. It is that simple. Be it Subway, Burger King, Hardee's, wherever, the consumer can choose to eat a relatively healthy meal. It is not the establishment's job to tell the consumer what the consumer should buy from it.


I suppose the Los Angeles City Council is telling people that low income folks in Los Angeles do not have the sense to have the cheeseburger or the desert once and a while. They think the people that elected them are too stupid to know choose the salad choices at Wendy's or forgo the fries and the deserts. The people were smart enough to elect them to office, but not smart enough to know what to buy at an eating establishment.


Such is where the American Left is today. They tell people not to worry, give them the political power, and they will make sure you get health care, housing, etc. Then, after they have the power, they come along and tell people the price, which is not only higher taxes but having choices of what you eat taken from you. The ever present Left knows better how you should run your life than you do.


As for me, I will keep reading the labels and watching what I consume. I like having the choice. I choose not to consume candy, cookies and real soft drinks. You might choose differently. I have no problem with that. It is your life.


Los Angeles City Council and others like them forget a quote by Ronald Reagan. Reagan once stated, "Freedom means you can be stupid if you want to be." Of course, that stupidity has a cost, in my case, it got me up to 366 pounds one time. If I, a man of admitted limitations, can make choices to change that, so can anyone else. I am not arrogant enough to think I am somehow above the lower income folks of Los Angeles and that those folks can not make better choices at the establishments that they eat at.


Call me an idealistic fool, but I believe most people do not want to be unhealthy and when they have access to information about what they are consuming and what it could be doing to them, they will act in their own self interests. That is economics at its purest form.


However, if the government comes along and tells people that they must eat certain foods, or creates a climate in which certain foods are harder to sell, it adds romance to the unhealthy food choices, and my guess is that they will increase. Besides, if I eat my spinach and tuna for several days and decide to treat myself to a monthly cheeseburger, what right does any government have to tell me I can not buy it? What right does any government have to say that someone can not sell it to me? What right does any government have to make it harder for me to buy it or for someone to sell it? Is there anything left that people elected to local office will not try to make their friends and neighbors who elected them to office do?


The United States was founded on the idea of limited government. Capitalism made the United States the envy of the world. In that, governments, at all levels, should protect property and basic civil rights, make sure fraud is prevented, and make sure in the consumer market that truthful information is available for the consumers. It is not the government's job, at any level, to influence consumers on their choices once the truthful information is presented. That is the economic freedom that made us into a nation where the poor live better than most of the world.


The situation makes me wonder what will be next. Perhaps banning alcohol sales in certain low income neighborhoods, or certain brands of malt beverages popular in some communities? Where does the government intrusion stop?

Monday, July 28, 2008

A simple truth that gets lost in modern politics

As we gear up for another round of politics and campaigns running in full gear, I thought I would point out an old political truth that just seems lost in today's politics of numbers, blogs, paid operatives, targeting, fund raising, slick ads, etc.

I have heard different reports from different sources, and seen somethings myself firsthand that indicate to me that the staffers and consultants and their blog guys and what not are increasingly arrogant and rude. They are not growing arrogant and rude towards one another as much as they are towards people who want to support their candidates and policies.

Too often in politics today, the staff checks their printouts for who gave what money or where someone is from and how that area votes and then they address that supporter's problems, suggestions or questions.

It is amazing to me how little some highly paid people know about people. People may often forget or misremember what you said, but people never forget how you made them feel. Right or wrong in conservative ideals, it is human nature, and its something to you have to face.

Hypothetically, suppose a man and his family go to Columbia to visit the zoo. The guy wants a Lindsey Graham sticker and to tell someone about all the Obama signs he sees in his middle class neighborhood. So, after they visit the zoo, the man and his family go to campaign or party headquarters. There, the staffer takes the man's name and address, acting as if she had better things to do. Some guy who doesn't introduce himself walks by and patronizes the visitor on his concerns. A couple of days later, after being patronized and insulted, the man gets in the mail a letter asking for money. Never mind that the man in question could be head of a lodge or a former mayor or business leader or the like. In business, such behavior is suicide.

In politics, sincere listening and trying to help the customer that is the people is becoming a lost art. That is why so many people who normally pay attention to every other detail of their lives tune politics out.

In the next few years, the United States, and yes, even South Carolina, is going to face some rather dramatic political times. Demographic shifting shows that within 10 years, South Carolina's Republicans can not just put a "R" beside their names and win without a fight.

So, I say, if the Republican party is looking to change its message in these down times, perhaps it should start with how it trains operatives and candidates on dealing with people. When some person takes the trouble to take the time out of his or her life to come to a campaign or party office, and ask questions, offer suggestions, or offer to help in some small way, show respect, be nice and listen. You never know who are you talking to and just what they could do positively for your cause if you sincerely treat them with respect and leave them feeling good about your candidate and your party. You might find the most respected member of a church who gets his fellow church members to carry a precinct. You might find a woman who never gave a dime in her life to a political candidate writing a check for the maximum amount. You might just a get a vote.

However, you can rest assured that if a candidate's or party's staff or representatives are arrogant and patronizing, you will likely get nothing. It is sort of misnomer that universities offer degrees in political science. While there is a lot science in politics, the essence of politics comes down to the art of knowing how to deal with people and how to sincerely make them feel comfortable with your ideas and your candidate. The building block of that art is the tested method of showing sincere respect and taking the time to really listen to what someone, no matter how insignificant according the science of politics, has to say.

The late Dale Carnegie summed it up with this simple quote: "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."

Whichever side's politicos take that quote to heart will find themselves with more friends, i.e., more votes in elections in years to come.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Inconvenient Alaska weather


Inconvenient weather is occurring in Anchorage, according the Anchorage Daily News. In a recent article, the paper pointed out how Anchorage is headed towards the coldest summer on record. The article cites scientists blaming the La Nina phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean for the unusually low temperatures.

Regardless the reason, the weather numbers coming out of Alaska this summer are inconvenient for the environmental left. Polluters are still polluting. Indeed, China seems unable to get rid of its smog for the upcoming Olympic games.

I realize there are those who will call the 2008 summer in Alaska an anomaly or the the exception that proves the rule. There is a comfort to some in believing that we human beings actually control the weather. Whether through arrogance about the power of humanity, or fear out of not being in control, there will always be an element of humanity that believes we control everything on Earth, including the weather.

Such a position is nearly insane when you think on it. As a weather buff, I enjoy reading detailed weather bulletins, measuring various weather readings and trying to figure out what is next. I will admit, I am quite the weather nerd. I have been since I was a kid. I know all about the science and the years of study so many put into just trying to figure out tomorrow's forecast. I have read about how Native Americans used to read the clouds to determine the coming weather.

All in all, reading the clouds might be about as accurate as all the science and computers we use now. There are times when all the science just can not predict what will happen next. Tornadoes form in certain places, but not in other places where the conditions are similar. Hurricanes "wobble," which means that they take a sudden move the data did not suggest. Storms strengthen in conditions in which other storms did not.

However, so many in the environmental movement do not have the guts to say "we just don't really know." Instead, when it comes to global warming, they take a position and go out and get data to defend that position. Al Gore's presentation is a prime example of that. His presentation was one of issue advocacy, not one of science.

I will admit that advocates have their day and are, at times, right. However, when it comes to huge natural events, such as the weather, Mother Nature, Mother Earth, God, whatever you wish to call the forces of nature, constantly remind the advocates that the advocates are just guessing.

Just think of this. The next time the weather report calls for snow, and all you get is a cold rain, or the report calls for cold rain and you get snowed in, remember if climatology, with all its tools, can not predict the climate for 36 hours without flaw, how it can it predict the climate for decades down the road?

Alaska is showing us this summer, that despite our technology, there are still somethings we can not control, and not even at times predict. While I completely agree that we should all take measures to make sure we have clean air, clean water and preserve natural beauty, the thought that we human beings somehow are in control of the weather is just too inconvenient for a logical mind to agree to.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Local politics in SC are a dadgummed mess


About a year I ago, I wrote on this blog and in other places that local government was out of control. I wrote while state and federal governments were reducing taxes and spending, local governments grew at unprecedented rates. Regardless of how one feels about how local government spending and taxing should grow, there is one thing clear in the past few weeks: South Carolina’s local governments are in chaos.

Take for example the municipal governments of Beaufort and Union. Those municipal governments have been rocked in recent days by the resignation of their respective mayors involved in public scandals.

Add to that the rocking the county government in York County got when its Coroner submitted his resignation for alleged criminal activity. Local politics are just a mess in South Carolina.

Don’t fret, it gets better. Mayor Frank Willis of Florence is still challenging in the courts his one vote Democratic primary defeat to Stephen Wukela. Willis’s continued court challenge is complicated more by former Democratic Mayor Rocky Pearce attempting to get on the fall ballot as an independent candidate for mayor.

Resignations, long winded court battles, fighting to be at the top of the inefficient local spending pool seems to define local South Carolina politics now. While so many pundits in South Carolina worry about Governor Sanford’s agenda and tax credits aka school choice, I wonder who is actually paying attention to the how the local governments, in their chaos, are taking dollar after dollar from us?

The growing chaos and expanding local governments are something conservatives must face. For what good do we really do if we create state tax relief, yet turn a blind eye to the seeming forever increasing taxes of local governments? Is this what conservatism has developed into?

Is conservatism now a movement that stops at the state house door and allows local and county governments to do what they will? Is conservatism now a movement that does not mind big government as long as those who give to that big government give to Republicans?

We Republicans are in one helluva mess. It is a mess of our own choosing. If we had the courage and the discipline to vote for local and county officials the way in which we do federal officials, the entire point of this post would be moot.

Instead, we that call ourselves conservatives continue to elect people to positions in government closest to us that do not really embrace the principles of conservative government. As a result, we have to live with local governments in chaos. We have to live with higher taxes, court costs, and the like.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pickens County Council proposal makes sense


It is widely reported that Pickens County Council is working to pass an ordinance that makes English the official language for county business and requires all vendors doing business with the county to make sure those who work for them are legal workers.


Some pundits are crying foul over the measure, and arguing that it is bigoted against immigrants. Those pundits are not really thinking the issue through.


The United States, and yes, even South Carolina, is made of people from diverse backgrounds. While those diverse backgrounds have their value, it is important that we use our government system to agree on how to officially communicate with one another. The elected officials of Pickens seem to be moving to saying that English will be that official way to communicate with one another. Frankly, perhaps the federal government should follow suit.


For those who think that stand is bigoted, think on this. When different groups of people live in the same area and can not adequately communicate, misunderstandings lead to missed opportunities and even violence. By stating that day to day business be conducted in English, it removes that communications barrier. Everyone knows what mode in which to communicate. Spanish speaking nation-states throughout Central and South America use that standard. They expect day to day business to be conducted in Spanish. Are those nation-states and their governments and people racist or bigoted?


Further, in a capitalist system, economic competition is key to bringing about the best living situation for all involved. However, if someone breaks the agreed upon rules of that competition by hiring illegal workers, the competition becomes unfair and results become skewed. Those results become detrimental not only the competitors who competed by the rules, but to the illegal workers. Illegal workers can be intimidated, paid less than minimum wage, and subjected to poor health and safety standards. As those illegal workers live in fear of having no real redress of their grievances; they live little better than slaves to those who hire them.


That is why I support the Pickens County initiative in part, but think that it, like the current state law, does not go far enough. There needs to be real stiff criminal penalties for businesses and business managers who knowingly hire illegal workers. After all, if we can make environmental misgivings criminal for businesses with federal legislation such as CERCLA, why can't we do the same to protect human beings?

Crime hits small towns hard


One of the great things about living in a small town is that violent crime is not often a daily occurrence. However, when it happens, it hits hard. You either actually know the victim, or know people who know the victim.


On Tuesday night in Honea Path, two apparently black men in white shirts, plaid shorts and covered faces robbed the Stop a Minute convenience store. In the course of their robbing the store, they fired several shots, one striking the Erskine College seminary student who was working the counter in the leg.


Of course, being in a small town, I know the victim's name. I know some of his family. My brother knows the victim, and he and my sister in law live about a quarter of a mile from where the robbery took place. I reside about a mile away, as do my parents, who reside about a block from me. The man who was shot has checked me out of the store when I stopped by there.


It is of great relief to so many in this small town that man clerking at the store Tuesday night was not injured worse and will recover. While I do not mean to discount the pain of violent crimes in larger cities, when it happens in a small town, were it is so easy to know the victim and know people around him, it just sort of hits harder.


In a small town, there are stronger than usual connections. When you are checked out of a store, if you recognize the clerk you ask things like, "how's your brother or daddy doing?" Often, the clerk will return the same type of question. It never crosses your mind that somebody might shoot the clerk one night.


I realize that with the growing presence of drugs, such as crystal meth, gangs, and the ailing economy, that life in small town America is no longer the Mayberry model. However, the cost of violent crime hits home when you know of the victim, know of some of the police folks involved and the some of the first responders. It hits hard and becomes real.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ronald Reagan - A Time for Choosing (October 27, 1964)

It was a speech 44 years ago, but Ronald Reagan said things that apply today. We can not give up our freedom for a promise of utopia with Islamic fascism. If you substitute Reagan's approach to the stand of the American Left today to Islamic extremism, well, this speech is as pertinent today as it was in 1964.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Senator Kevin Bryant removes Obama Osama Picture



Browsing the web, I noticed that Senator Kevin Bryant removed the Obama-Osama picture he had posted to his blog. Read his comments about doing such at http://kevinbryant.com/2008/07/22/sen-barack-obama/.

The national and state media firestorm that developed over the blog posting has been intense. National news networks and papers ran the story, and such well known liberal websites as the Huffington Post placed Bryant in their political cross hairs.

I did not find any great humor in the picture, but I have to note the "outrage" from the left at such a picture. It comes just a week or so after the satirical cover of the New Yorker magazine was so attacked.

Regardless of what one thinks of the New Yorker or of Kevin Bryant, rational followers of the political scene have to ask themselves what is so special about Barack Obama that his supporters attack anyone who dares to poke fun at the Senator from Illinois.

Similar cartoons about McCain being too old and about to die and about Vice President Cheney being evil are accepted as good humor. However, when Obama is subject to such, all Hell breaks loose on the Left.

The Obama supporters act not in defense of the candidate as much as they seem to act to silence those who criticize him. The situations with the New Yorker and with Senator Bryant seem to be a declaration from Obama supporters, "if you poke fun at our guy, or even those who criticize our guy in a way we don't like, we will make your life a living hell. You had better shut up."

The Obama camp's reaction, and the media who seem to do its bidding's reaction, is troubling. Even if someone portrays a national political figure in poor taste, there is something fundamentally un-American about the vicious attack mode the Obama forces go into over simple satirical pictures and cartoons. Can you imagine the outcry if the Right had viciously attacked the cartoonist who used my favorite cartoon, Peanuts, to say that Conservatives had fairy tale beliefs?Why does Obama have another standard?

As for Kevin Bryant, he is no racist. I know the man. He and I disagree on some issues, but he's dedicated to the state and to his family. The guy offered some humor that was supposed to make folks think. Was it good humor, probably not. But, should Bryant be hounded for it? No.
Last time I checked, this was still the United States of America, not some two bit third world country. It is usually two bit third world countries ran either by military or religious dictatorships that threaten the livelihoods of those who poke fun at the leaders. Perhaps that is where the United States is headed now. I hope not. I also hope Bryant puts his attempt at humor back up as thumb in the eye to those who would silence his voice.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why Jindal over Sanford?


In some circles there is surprise and in others no shock at all at the news that John McCain is meeting with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal again this week, presumably to discuss the Vice Presidency. That apparently puts Governor Jindal on the very short list, and removes Mark Sanford from it.


This blog has long touted the Louisiana Governor's qualities. However, recent developments in Louisiana show the true contrast between two reform minded conservative southern governors.


The Louisiana State Senate recently decided, by a vote of 36-2, to not meet to discuss and vote on the vetoes issued by Governor Jindal. That is historic when one takes into the account Governor Jindal vetoed 238 line items in the Louisiana state budget, a record for that state. In one session of the Louisiana legislature, Governor Jindal has been able to have marked budget accomplishments. That is something Governor Sanford has not been able to do in six sessions in South Carolina.


I realize some will blame the legislature, and not Sanford for such a record. However, Jindal deals with more Democrats than Sanford does. Jindal is in a state notorious for its good ole boy backslapping and downright corruption. Louisiana even has even had a Governor serving from jail! Jindal must either have their respect or their fear if those legislators give up that pork without a fight.


Of course, it is possible the good ole boys in Louisiana were willing to give Governor Jindal a big budget victory in order to try to "kick him upstairs," as the New York Assembly did with Theodore Roosevelt in 1900.


Regardless the reason, Jindal's success with the Louisiana budget gives him a victory Sanford simply does not have. If Sanford were picked for the ticket, the national media and the Obama campaign would hammer the fact that Sanford can not even work with members of his own party to get things done. Stories about the pigs in the State House, the horse and buggy at the State House, and the hundreds of vetoes overridden would become defining stories of Mark Sanford. I can envision some pundit saying, "Even Dan Quayle got along with members of his own party."


Governor Jindal does not have that problem. Though only 37, his record in Congress, the Bush Administration, and in Louisiana shows him as a politico who can get things done.


Will Bobby Jindal be McCain's pick? I do not know. However if John McCain is looking for a younger, conservative reform Governor from the South, Jindal is his choice, hands down.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Obama running against Bush


If one listens closely to the rhetoric coming out of the Obama campaign, it appears that the Illinois senator is running more against President Bush than John McCain. While so called conventional wisdom touts such a method with Bush's current poll numbers, history tells us taking on the so called dimwit in the White House can prove troublesome for Democrats.


In 1994, George W. Bush, then the soon to be former managing partner of the Texas Rangers was thought to have no chance against incumbent Democrat Ann Richards, who had been dubbed as "Mrs. Texas." Bush shocked the political world and launched his bid for the White House by soundly defeating the favored incumbent at the polls.


Six years later, Governor Bush faced Vice President Al Gore, who led by wide margins in the summer polls, but who lost a narrow defeat to Bush after Bush fared better than expected in the Presidential debates. Regardless of whatever one thinks about the controversy surrounding the Florida vote, in July of 2000, there was simply no way George W. Bush could come close. Yet, his DUI arrest released in October and his other failings did not prevent him from taking the White House.


In the summer of 2004, America seemed fed up with President Bush and John Kerry seemed to be on his way to the White House. However, Bush made his moves and prevailed by winning the most popular votes of any candidate for President of the United States in history.


Now, in 2008, Bush can not run for a third term, yet Barak Obama and the people around him are making the general election about Bush. Again, it seems the smart thing to do on paper. However, given Bush's past ability to overcome challenges and rise above expectations in election years, the Obama campaign's insistence on running against Bush seems ripe for backfire. The President of the United States and those around him know how to fight a political street fight, and they will not just roll over for Obama.


Indeed, it could be a huge mistake for the Obama people to run against Bush instead of McCain. Bush and his people are used to facing long odds and beating them. Do not be surprised if the President and his people act to check Obama's attacks against them. Those folks know how to win when it counts. Just ask the supporters of Ann Richards, Al Gore and John Kerry.


As such, the Obama campaign's strategy of running against President Bush might not prove to be the political boondoggle they hope for. For, making this election about President Bush could be far more dangerous for Obama than simply running against John McCain. The Bush people know how to win. They live by the saying from old Oakland Raiders' great Al Davis, "Just win, baby."
Obama's people should take note. They, as things are now, are choosing to run against a man whose people know how to win. Obama and his would be well advised to stick to running against McCain and leave the Bush folks alone.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Poll numbers tell us it is time to get to work


SC Hotline posted polling numbers from Public Policy Polling that put the 2010 Governor's race in South Carolina up for grabs. While the numbers on that particular race were interesting, the numbers about the 2008 Presidential campaign were more pressing in my opinion.

Public Policy Polling, a group out of Raleigh, NC, found in their most recent polling of South Carolina voters, that John McCain was only up over Barak Obama by a margin of 45 percent to 39 percent. There is a 4.2 percent margin of error in the poll. See the polling data at http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/PPP_Release_SC_715.pdf

If that data is taken as solid, South Carolina could become a semi-battleground state for the first time since 1980, when Ronald Reagan had a strong presence to defeat President Jimmy Carter of Georgia, the last Democrat to win South Carolina's presidential vote. (Carter won in 1976, and came relative close in 1980 against Reagan.)

From 1980 forward, South Carolina has been thought of as a Republican only state in Presidential elections. However, with the current Presidential race so relatively close and the future Governor match ups virtually tied, there are signs that things are changing in South Carolina.

If the numbers recently published are to be accepted, then South Carolina Republicans face a new political reality. In that new political reality, South Carolina Republicans will have to work for statewide victories and not rely upon just their party label for easy victories. The published numbers show those of us who are Republican that the days of sitting on our collective arses are over. We must fight now for every vote and pay diligent attention to the things we do and propose.

Barak Obama's good summertime numbers in South Carolina are a wake up call to South Carolina Republicans to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Obama talks about hope and dreams, and his followers buy into it. But, political victory can be found in hard work. It is time to get to work.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Will we run from the hard work on education?


After reviewing Howard Rich’s interview with GOP Chairman Katon Dawson posted on SC Hotline, I like, so many, found his platitudes hard to argue against. The same can be said of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Who wants to stand against parents choosing what is best for their children? Who stands against hope?

However, like Obama’s platitudes, Rich’s are without great thought. Both men seem to forget the federal principle of federalism and seem all to eager to use whatever is at their disposal to make folks buy into their vision of America and what they think government should do. Neither man is for limited government, only for government that furthers their objectives.

I know that gives some folks pause. But, in all frankness, what works in Wisconsin or New York might not work in South Carolina. That is why our founding fathers saw fit to value the rights of states and their citizens to determine their own affairs on issues like public education.

On the issue of public education, let’s take a look at what South Carolina could gain or lose from the Howard Rich way. While Mr. Rich and his associates sound so good in their proposals to give parents control, the plan proposed in South Carolina does not do that. What we have proposed is a tax credit of about $3000.

Such a tax credit ignores two very important facts. First, in the areas were our public school performance lacks the most, there are no viable private school alternatives. Second, where there are legitimate private school alternatives, the tuition is far greater than the tax credit offered. There is simply no way the current plan can give the struggling student a way out. The idea that a poor student from Ware Shoals or Allendale who wants to achieve more can get into private school with the tax credit is just fanciful. All tax credits will do is help upper middle class families in the suburbs with the Volvo payment.

That help will not be for long. For those parents and children who might benefit from the tax credit will still find they will be paying for the products of failed public education and the culture of failure that persists. Those costs will be found in the time tested costs of ignorance: social programs, law enforcement and jails.

It is a stark and painful truth to face. But, alas it there staring us in the face. If we conservatives really want our state to move forward, we should not rely upon gimmicks, but instead have the political fortitude to challenge the culture of failure and call for public education reform. We should put the resources into that reform to make a real difference for the children who, frankly, have no other alternative but the public schools to make their lives better.

I realize there are no big campaign dollars to be gained for politicians who make such a stand. The Howard Rich crowd wants tax credits. The education establishment wants the status quo. However, common sense tells us they are both wrong. The status quo is not getting the job done. Tax credits for private schools will not fix that problem. The only thing that will is politicians having the courage to stand up and reform public education and make public education again into the force it once was. For, with public education the United States went from a second rate power to the power we are today. Further, no nation-state in the world enjoys a high standard of living without quality public education.

The state of South Carolina, and the United States as a whole, faces a great challenge. Will we be willing to do the hard things or pander to those who write campaign checks? Thirty some odd years ago, a conservative Democratic President who cut taxes stood up and challenged the United States to put a man on the moon. Then President John F. Kennedy said “we do not seek this because it is easy, but because it is hard.”

Today, we face similar hard challenges. Will we become a people who forego the values of public education in favor of assisting a few help their children do better? Will we become a people who allow the status quo keep giving us inefficiency and a marked lack of success? Will we become a people led by the well financed extreme sides of a debate that offers no real solutions and leaves us with paying the bill for the products of failed education in our social programs and prisons?

Or, will we find the will to do the hard thing, and that hard thing is reforming public education. Let’s spend our time and energy working to cut administrative costs and fight for a common sense, business friendly approach to curriculum. Parents have more control in public schools now than the politicians will admit. They can go to school board meetings and meet with teachers. Parents can organize campaigns to elect school board members. Common sense solutions are not that far away. All it takes is a little will and gumption by parents and politicians. I realize it is hard work, but are we so removed from our cultural heyday of the space program that we are afraid to actually work to do the hard things needed to make our society better?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Jesse Jackson goes nuts over Obama's call for responsiblity

The Rev. Jesse Jackson issued an apology for his outrageous remarks showed in the video included in this post.

However, Rev. Jackson's comments show some of the political problems that Senator Obama faces that it is politically incorrect to speak of. First, Obama has a white mama, and that offends some blacks. Second, Obama's capturing of a major party nomination and probable election to the Presidency takes away a large part of the arsenal the so called pimps of poverty like to use to get large corporations to pay their "civil rights" organizations money. Obama's rise to power is "messin' with the money."

The third problem Jackson's comments highlights joins some left wing columnists comments recently about Obama. Obama has campaigned on the broad idea of hope. People who hear him, with very different agendas, think that he is going to make their views come to pass. Politically, it seems perfect. However, in the long term it is problematic. If Obama becomes President, he will have to make decisions. From the first decision on, President Obama will disappoint someone. Some of those disappointed could be bitter, as Rev. Jackson appears to be in the video, apologies not withstanding.

In the radical peace and African American communities, the disappointment in Obama could be profound. Thoughts that Obama will quickly end the war on terrorism and even provide reparations for the decedents of slaves are unrealistic. However, so many people are banking on Obama to do those things.

Obama's people will have to face that situation. Comments such as Jackson's could force them to face that situation before the general election instead of afterwards. Cynically, think of all Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition could lose if Obama won the White House. With that kind of money being messed with, its enough to make a man want to, oh well, Rev. Jackson says it best.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

RIP Senator Jesse Helms


Senator Jesse Helms passed away on Independence Day. For thirty years, he was the Senator from North Carolina. He agitated folks on the left and some moderates with crystal clear stands on the issues of the day.

However, It is not those social views that we at Voting under the Influence choose to remember and honor Helms for. Though those views have their place, it is fitting to honor Senator Helms for being a man who got things done for the people of North Carolina and, as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, being a warrior for freedom when freedom needed him most.

In 1972, when Helms was first elected to the United States Senate, it was not easy or politically correct to stand up against communism. Yet, Helms did. Helms spent his entire Senate career working for freedom in nations that had before never tasted it. Helms worked with Republicans and Democrats on that endeavor. He counted among his best friends Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

Indeed, in retirement Helms even worked with the pop/rock star Bono to work for charities for developing nations. The caricature the media created of Jesse Helms did the man no justice. He was bigger than that. He will go down in history as the longest serving popularly elected United States Senator in North Carolina history and as a warrior against communism when America needed him most.

Rest in peace, Senator Helms.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Independence Day


It had to be hot. There was no air conditioning or electric fans. A group of Congressional delegates gathered in their meeting room in Philadelphia to hear the document the committee led by Thomas Jefferson had come up with.

The sweat had be pouring through the formal clothing of the time as the document was introduced, read and approved. The sweat probably came not only from the heat, but from the situation. The men gathered were deciding to stand for liberty and against the nation that they had been a part of their entire lives. The break from Britain was not an easy one, and even the Declaration of Independence itself noted how such breaks should not be for minor matters.

Think of the courage those men showed that day. We often honor, as we should, those who have courage in military service for our country, but perhaps we forget those who showed real courage in the political world.

There were no lobbyists promising support for the next election campaign. There were no businesses ready to finance trips or the like for support of the measure. There was just the hope of liberty and a chance at a great experiment. The price for that hope was certain war against the greatest power on Earth at the time.

We are so used to how politics are now. We forget what a brave thing politics was on that day. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence signed onto a philosophy that changed the world. They also signed a document that made them traitors in the eyes the British Crown. Many of those men were, until that day, respected and accepted in high British culture. They knew that they would never be accepted again.

Some of the signers would be imprisoned by the British. Some would have their estates destroyed. Others would die broke. Some would have great success after the war and hold high office, even the Presidency.

However, on that hot day in July in 1776, standing for liberty was not something those men did for the money or for personal interest. They were devoted to serving the greater good. They embraced the idea that the people, not the government were ultimately in charge. They embraced the idea that the people were in charge because their Creator, God, gave them certain rights. In an age where it was thought God gave the King his power, contending that God gave the people power, and that no government could take those rights from the people was thought by some to be incredible. Think on it for a moment. Those men in Philadelphia committed themselves to the principle that no man, even a King, could take away certain rights from the people. Those rights came from God, and no man could touch them. (As a side note, when people talk about taking God out of public discourse in the United States, I wonder if they realize that they use a right that our founders said was from God.)

As we enjoy the barbecue and fireworks this Fourth of July, let us take time to pause and remember not only those who have served in our military to make and keep us free, but those brave men in Philadelphia who, with no regard for their own fortunes or political careers, had the courage to declare this nation free and establish an entirely new way of how the people and their government related to one another. God bless and keep the United States of America.

Thoughts on a President who promises one term


On websites at the state and national level, pundits are bouncing around the idea that McCain will announce that if elected he would only serve one term. Those pundits are writing as if McCain would be the first Presidential candidate to ever do so.

In modern history, those pundits are correct. However, Presidents have made clear their desire to not serve beyond the term they sought. President James K. Polk, perhaps the most underrated President of the United States by conventional wisdom, promised to only serve one term. President Polk achieved every large goal he sought. He secured the Oregon Territory from the British. His pursuit of war with Mexico resulted in California, Texas and the other states that make up the Southwest of the United States coming under the control of the United States.

At a turning point in American history, President Polk was free to be President first and have no worries about the next election, and history shows what he achieved for the country in one term outweighed what a potential four more years could have achieved.

Another President who got a lot done in his last promised term was Theodore Roosevelt. Though he had served three years filling out the term of slain President William McKinley, Roosevelt promised not to seek the Presidency in 1908 when he sought a term in his own name in 1904. That freed Theodore Roosevelt to push for a strong navy and to the construction of the Panama Canal without worrying about election consequences. As with Polk, Roosevelt was free to act as a President at a turning point in history without worries about an election.

Together the one term of Polk and the term of Roosevelt in his own name were instrumental in shaping the United States into the power it is today.

Now, it can be argued that the United States is at another crucial turning point in its history. It would be appealing to American voters for either major Presidential candidate to stand up and say, “If you elect me, I will not waste one moment of my time as President worrying about re-election, instead I will do the job for all the American people, not just those who could support me for re-election.”

It would be a refreshing change from the politics we unfortunately have grown accustomed to in the United States and be a throwback to a time when the men who sought the Presidency had the belief that the office was bigger than their own short term political ambitions.

The only potential problem such a statement from a candidate could face comes from the vast majority of the media, bloggers and pundits. Far too many of them have a mindset that is ignorant of history. It is simply foreign to them that a candidate for President would not want to seek as much time with power as possible. Calling such a move “weak” or a “gimmick” would be easier for those press and pundits less inclined to do hard thinking and a little reading of history. Those folks just will not get it. They would more likely write about Mrs. McCain’s fashion or Mr. Obama’s church than they would about how a Presidential candidate was putting the Presidency and the country above himself. If it is their mindset that defines the country right now, then the turn we take at this crucial time in our country’s history might not turn out as well as other turning points did.

For if we really have become a country were we scoff at those who put country first and their self interests second, we are in deep trouble.