Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sanford needs to end the soap opera

Last week, VUI called for Sanford to resign for himself, his family and his state. VUI noted then how things were starting to happen as VUI predicted as Sanford remained in office. Not even the staff of VUI could have seen the release of the AP interview Tuesday of Governor Mark Sanford.

In that interview, Sanford contradicted his previous statements about how much he met with his Argentine lover. Sanford even dubbed her his "soulmate." Sanford admitted "crossing the line" with other women. It was sad, shocking, angering, whatever.

Mark Sanford seems to be a man hellbent on self destruction. Sanford's most recent interview with the AP sounded more like a man talking to his counselor or friend than a sitting Governor in an interview with a reporter. While long time couples break up, and one partner falls out of love, very few sit down with the AP and talk about the other person being a "soulmate" and about trying to fall back in love with their spouse. It is just not something an adult does. Especially if there are children who can read or hear the remarks so public. Further, the Governor has given up his biggest card in the events of the past week or so. Before the interview, he could claim his private life was private and that he had no comment on it. Now, he has went there.

The issues are now beyond his AWOL status. By giving such details in a press interview, Sanford has opened the door for the press to follow up his remarks and expand upon them. It was remarkably poor political judgment.

Further, that poor judgment has turned the Sanford scandal into a soap opera for himself and for South Carolina. If the man Mark Sanford wants to live a soap opera life, that is fine with VUI. However, South Carolina, with its soaring unemployment and other problems, can not afford 18 more months of this soap opera.

There comes a time when a man has to forget about himself, and put his family and his state before himself. Now is that time for Mark Sanford. Tuesday's interview showed, that on so many levels, Sanford should not remain as Governor. However, he should do one last act as Governor before he resigns. Sanford should fire whomever set up the AP interview. It was perhaps the stupidest political move ever seen in SC politics.

Click below to hear some of the Sanford interview courtesy of the AP and WIS-TV of Columbia.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Democrat Health Care Plan reeks

While it was proposed by then candidate Obama to work for universal health care without forcing people to participate, the plans of the Democrats in the United States Congress are doing just that, raising taxes and carving out costs for union special interests.

Back in 2008, the idea was floated that those who could not get affordable health insurance could opt into the Medicare plan. Though it would cost a great bit, such an idea is better than what is passing for plans today.

Under the proposals being considered most seriously, opting in is not an option. All Americans will be required to have health insurance coverage. That is a boondoggle for the insurance industry that has contributed millions to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Further, if someone has what is being termed a "gold plated" policy, that is one that is valued above the policies of federal employees, taxes will have to be paid on that policy's "gold plated" value. Let that sink in. The federal government is going to require you to have health insurance. However, if your coverage is too good, they are going to tax you on it. However, if you are in a union insurance deal, you will be exempt. Why, again, it goes back to money. The unions have given millions to Obama and the Democrats leading Congress.

How does that provide for better health care for Americans?

Such is the result of the billions of dollars of contributions to both parties and the idea prevailing that government must do something about health care. Big business is making sure big government makes you buy their product and big government is making sure that if you buy too good a product, you are punished, unless you are part of big labor and pay union dues that are partly sent to the politicians for their re-election campaigns.

It is nonsense. Yet, it is taken with all serious consideration by the Congress and the President of the United States. It happened before when President Bush pushed through prescription coverage for medicare. It sounded so good, but what big government did was confuse old people and give insurances companies a big payday. Such is what happens when big business makes big government act.

Here is a crazy idea. One that could never happen. Reduce federal regulation of health care. Return it to the states entirely. Let insurance companies offer their products as regulated by the states. Encourage the states to come up with clinics or the like where doctors can work for free for the uninsured or the underprivileged. Perhaps the states could be encouraged to create more public hospitals. Lawyers have to work free or for reduced fees to represent indigent parties in the legal system. Why not ask doctors to do the same?

I know it is not the most conservative proposal in the world, but in the environment we are in, at least it would keep people from being forced to buy coverage and taxed on that coverage.

In the ideal world, the market would be left to decide such things. However, in the Obama Era, we are not in that ideal world. There will be something done by the federal government on health care. Let's just hope that the rights of people to make their own choices in life are not trampled in some sort of lobbyist dream legislation.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

okay, a MJ tribute

I grew up in the 80s, but I was more of a Southern Rock and Heavy Metal guy than a pop guy. But to throw a bone to the rest of the world, there was one Micheal Jackson song I actually liked. It was called "Thriller." That to me was the high point of Jackson's career. I really give a less than a damn for him after that. But, I get it. Pundits have to recognize what his death is meaning to so many. This is the one and only paying of respect I will do for the old pop star pervert. He really rocked it out with the song Thriller. Enjoy. Don't ask me for more. Johnny Cash's passing bothered me a helluva of lot more.


Of course there is that old 80s parody guy, Weird Al, who offers this...


Or how about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqz1ojIQTBk

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sanford stays on, and so it begins

Governor Mark Sanford met with his cabinet Friday, apologized to them, and made it clear he plans to stay on as Governor. Thus, the great headaches discussed in VUI’s previous post about why Sanford should resign have begun.

It started with Sanford comparing himself to King David of the Bible. One thing to note, Governor, King David did not sneak off to meet his mistress and cry about it on national television. King David was interested in a woman and sent her husband off to die in combat. It was wrong, but it was a bit more manly. King David had a pair, so to speak. It is the height of hubris and perhaps a touch of insanity that makes Sanford compare himself with King David.

Then came Jenny Sanford commenting to the press that remains camped outside her location about how she did not want Governor Sanford going to see the woman from Argentina. As predicted, more heartache for the Sanford family the longer Governor Sanford hangs on to office. I would not have asked the questions the press around her did, but let’s be frank, as long as Sanford is Governor, asking his wife such questions, which made her cry at the end of the press event, are fair game in today’s politics. It was a sad display. Something we ought not to see. But, Sanford chose it by making moves to hold on to office.

Also as predicted, legislators started asking serious questions. State Senator Jake Knotts of Lexington County called for an investigation into the Governor’s trips and behavior. That was expected, and frankly, understandable. A simple resignation by the Governor could avoid making the South Carolina General Assembly take up that matter and other matters related to the Governor’s office instead of concentrating on the problems that face the state.

Then there is the Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer. Blog comments have already started attacking him, as VUI predicted. Sanford supporters and lackeys are already out there spinning whatever rumor they can about the Lt. Governor and how awful it would be if Sanford stepped aside.

Fair enough. VUI realizes there is a lot of politics at play here. So many do not want Bauer as the sitting Governor, and others want Sanford to kick around. The problem is that Mark Sanford spent his entire career telling us how he was for his principles and for South Carolina. Well, now is the time for him to shine in that regard. He can continue the madness that seems to come from a self ego bigger than life and remain in office and create divisions and chaos in his own party, and brings attention to his family, or he can resign.

The longer Mark Sanford stays in office as Governor of South Carolina, the more bitterness and infighting in the Republican Party, the weaker the office of Governor of South Carolina grows. Perhaps Governor Sanford should concern himself less with King David and more with Richard Nixon. When Richard Nixon realized that fighting to stay in office would hurt his party, and the institution of the office he held, he had the courage to check his ego and resign, despite his personal angry feelings about how events had developed.

As before, VUI says for himself, his family, and his state, Mark Sanford should resign. The developments of the past few days make that clear.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bauer to face some nasty political pitches now that he is in the show

In baseball terms, the major leagues are considered “the show.” When a minor league player makes it a few days in the majors, or a career, he is said to have been “in the show.” Well, Lt. Governor Bauer, welcome to the show of politics.

The lackeys around Governor Mark Sanford are scrambling to hold on to their position of relevance and have started a rather interesting campaign of sorts against Lt. Governor Bauer. Their campaign mantra seems to be “well, if if Sanford resigns, that guy is Governor.”

Hardly the stuff that great political movements are made of. But, it is what can be expected of the Sanford lackeys. They have used the politics of personal destruction at every opportunity to tear a riff in the Republican Party and they got paid well for doing so. You can bet that if Bobby Harrell had went out of the country to meet a mistress those calling for “privacy” and “time” would be calling for Harrell’s political scalp.

Now, those resources will be turned on Andre Bauer. The reason? Making Bauer look worse than Sanford can keep Sanford in office and salvage any investment made by Howard Rich and company. Democrats will chime in, because they want a ridiculed Governor Sanford in office in November of 2010. Other Republican contenders will chime in as well, as they do not want to run against a sitting Governor Bauer. . Before it is over, I would not be shocked if Bauer got blamed for the death of Michael Jackson by those folks. They are going to get ugly with the heir apparent.

Welcome to the show, Lt. Governor Bauer, the pitches you are about to get are going to be nasty. Wait and see.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Governor Sanford should resign

For whatever reason, so many pundits and policitians in South Carolina politics will not utter the title to this posting. Well, someone has to say it, so VUI will. For himself, his family, and his state, Governor Mark Sanford needs to resign as Governor of South Carolina.

Here’s why. For himself, Mark Sanford can stop the deep digging into his personal and political life by removing himself from the political scene. Sanford is done already when it comes to actually being able to accomplish goals as Governor, so there is nothing to lose for Sanford if he resigns and begs for privacy and forgiveness. Further, a contrite resignation based on putting his family back together could actually give Sanford a way to return to politics in the future. A constant dripping of news articles with emails and trips over the next few months if Sanford stays would destroy that.

For his family, resignation would get Mark Sanford’s family out of the spotlight. As long as Sanford is Governor, the press can justify camping out at Mrs. Sanford’s and Governor Sanford’s locations. They will be constantly asking questions. Pundits can justify making the harshest of remarks about the Governor and his girlfriend that his children can read. However, if Sanford leaves office, that furor would die down. The Governor’s family could be spared some of the uglier details that are likely to come out as the digging by the press and bloggers continues.

For his state, Governor Sanford could take the focus off him and place it back on the problems this state faces. The Governor’s personal problems are his, and not our business, until they affect his job. Being missing for a nearly a week clearly shows that his job is effected by his personal situation. (For all the controversy around Bill Clinton in the 1990s, the former President was not missing for a few days.) The oddity of the affair, the disappearance, the lying to the staff and press, it all makes South Carolina look bad. When Larry King spends nearly his whole hour talking about our Governor’s affair, instead of how great it is to vacation in South Carolina or to invest in a business in South Carolina, it hurts us all.

It also has set back any hope of the legislature giving more power to a Governor for at least ten years. Sanford has been an example of why Governors should not have more power to those who stand against such measures. Governor Sanford has zero political clout and every day he spends in office will diminish the perception of the office of Governor more.

Thus, the way out is clear. The Governor should resign. He should do so with a speech that talks up South Carolina and how it deserves better and how his family deserves better. The Governor should not have one critical word in his remarks about anyone. The Governor should do it surrounded by a crowd of hardcore supporters who applaud him as he concludes his remarks. Then, he should depart the state capitol and go out of the public eye. That is the only way Governor Mark Sanford can begin to heal the damage he inflicted on himself, his family, his agenda and South Carolina.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Governor Sanford A.W.O.L.

Governor Mark Sanford has been out of contact with his family, friends and staff for the past several days. Various media reports have the Governor’s staff stating that such is not unusual and that the Governor is hiking on the Appalachain Trail and needed to “clear his head.”

Frankly, VUI is tired of commenting about Governor Mark Sanford and his eccentric ways. However, when the Governor of South Carolina is incommunicado for such a period of time, it can not be ignored. There are several things that could be going on.

First, this could be a publicity stunt. Governor Mark Sanford and the people around are masters at getting the public to rally behind him at times. After the bruising stimulus defeat, Sanford and his people could have cooked up a scenario in which people worry more about where the Governor is than what the Governor has done or not done.

That scenario is unlikely. With no re-election to face and weighing a possible Presidential run, it is just politically boneheaded to disappear and not be able to be reached by family, friends, and staff. Can you imagine a President Sanford who takes a few days away from his duties to his office and family?

What is more likely at play is Sanford’s nature. The Governor is a strange fellow. There is nothing wrong with a being a bit eccentric. However, when someone is the Governor , there are some eccentric qualities that have to be put aside, among them going incommunicado for days at a time. Frankly, most small business owners can not do that.

Sanford’s lastest episode shows just how out of touch with real South Carolina people and families the Governor is. There are people who work hard everyday and face tough presssures of life who would love to tell their wives and kids and employers, “I have had enough, I am going to get away from all of you for a while. Talk to you when I get back.” However, those South Carolinians do not go incommunicado for a few days. Sure average South Carolinians might go fishing or take a hike, or down a few beers watching baseball with the fellows, but they tell family and friends, and even their employers and customers at times, where they are and how to reach them. It is called being responsible and being respectful to the people in your life that care about you and what happens to you.

The first draft comment of VUI about the Governor’s supposed disappearance was written as humor. It was going to be called “the man no one misses.” There was a line or two, made up of course, from various state leaders, including Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, whose comment we had, “I Andre Bauer, do solemnly swear…” But, after thinking on it, there is little humor to be really found in this situation.

Governor Mark Sanford showed a marked disrespect to his office and to the people of South Carolina. If he must get away, he should at least have the respect to tell the Lt. Governor and perhaps the head of DPS where he will be and how to reach him. VUI will not get into how he should treat his family and close friends. That is the Governor’s business. But, when government officials can not reach the Governor, that is our business. Perhaps Mark Sanford can take the portion of his salary paid to him during his time incommunicado and pay it towards state debt.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Today's lucky youth

One of my beloved “cousins” came around the other day, full of beans. He is a teenage athlete who can play ball and fish and hunt with the best of them. He has has a little girlfriend he spends time with. When he was sitting there with his I POD, I got to thinking about how easy he has it on the dating scene and just on the teen scene compared to us “old folks” who grew of age in the 1980s.

While my dear “cousin” comes of age with the I POD and things like it, those of us who came of age in the 1980s dealt with the cassette tape. Back in the 1980s we did not have the chance to rip songs online. If we were lucky, we could hit “record” on a blank cassette tape and record our favorite songs as they were played on the radio.

Certainly some readers remember the cassette tapes of our youth. We would work hours at K-Mart or at some farm or in some mill just to be able to buy the cassette tapes from the bands we wanted. At least I did.

I also had bulky cassette cases to carry around the tunes in. There was no little MP3 device, the cassettes were housed in bulky cases complete with handles and latches. I had two of them. One was for when I was alone or out with the fellows, the other was filled with cassettes for date nights. It was not until I was in college that I had a dual cassette player and recorder and could make mixes. Such a thing took hours of work.

Today’s youth gripes a lot, but, at least when it comes to music, they have it so easy. A download here or there onto a device as big as cigarette lighter, and they have the perfect mix for a date night. We old guys had to work with our cassette cases and the like. When I think on it, I want to scream out to today’s youth “Stop your bitching and wining, plug in your MP3 device to your car stereo, relax, and have a good time. Be glad.”

Besides, the youth of this time don’t have to deal with that dadgummed tape getting “ate” by the player right in the middle of making out with Betty Sue like we all had to deal with the 80s. When your Barry White cassette tape is hung up and goes “Come on, garble garble garble,” there goes the mood. Chances are the population would be a good bit larger today had those teens of back in the 80s had digital music instead of crappy old cassettes that jammed just at the wrong moment.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

SC politics and facebook

Rusty Depass’s facebook comment comparing the gorilla that temporarily escaped from the gorilla exhibit in Columbia’s Riverbanks Zoo to the First Lady of the United State’s family was boneheaded, unwise, insensitive, not funny, offensive, etc. Mr. DePass, a longtime GOP activist has resigned his job with a real estate firm and apologized to the NAACP.

Yet, the story still has legs. Politics is at play.

First, the story was broken by the FITS NEWS blog ran by politico Will Folks. While Folks was correct in calling the remark out of line, it must be noted that he did have a political ax to grind. The comment was made to a remark made about the escape on Trey Walker’s facebook page. Walker is a political rival of Folks. It is reasonable to assume that Folks posted the comments to embarrass Walker and his employer, Attorney General Henry McMaster. It is also reasonable to suspect that Folks did not see just how big the story could get and it could hurt Governor Mark Sanford’s Presidential aspirations. It is a classic case of a politico playing political checkers instead of political chess. Most reporters do not read facebook pages, but they do read Folk’s blog. His remarks kicked off the firestorm.

DePass has ties to nearly every elected Republican official in South Carolina. At some point or another, all of the major players have dealt with DePass at some level. That is what has moved the Democrats at the state and national level to keep this story alive. With Mark Sanford being seen as one of the five possible Republican nominees in 2012, the Democrats are motivated to play up any story that can embarrass the South Carolina Republican Party by association. For, that matter, any story that makes South Carolina appear as backwards, racist, stupid, whatever, is a good story for the national Democrats to push in the media.

Some readers might ask “how does that happen?” Well, it is rather simple. A Democratic operative on the national level simply sends an email or makes a call and says “look what this Republican in South Carolina said about the First Lady.” The story grows from there, with reporters falling all over themselves to make South Carolina look bad.

The result is that a comment that otherwise would have went unnoticed, even perhaps by the facebook page owner, becomes a political bullet for South Carolina and its candidates. Depass’s losing is over. He has lost his job and his reputation over a few words. Mark Sanford’s loss may have only just have begun. Make no mistake; if Sanford does run for President, he will hear the name Rusty DePass more than Sanford ever wanted to. Perhaps it will not be fair to Sanford. But, that is politics, and why politics is a game in which the players need to think three moves ahead instead of hitting the guy in front of them.

Check the ego, ma'am

When Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States, he took no offense at people referring to him as “sir” or “Mr. Lincoln” instead of his official salutation as “Mr. President.” Lincoln, of course, was known for his simple manner and humility.

The United States Senate, on the other hand has the reputation of the opposite. Twenty years ago, retired Senator Barry Goldwater referred to his colleagues at the end of tenure as “blow dried” and talk about the pompous nature of United States Senators. This past week, that pompous nature was illustrated by Senator Barbara Boxer of California.

Senator Boxer is Chair of the United States Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. In that role, Boxer chaired a hearing this week that had Brigadier General Michael Walsh of the United States Army Corps of Engineers as a witness. General Walsh made the mistake of referring to Boxer as “ma’am.” According to Fox News, that resulted in the following exchange.

"You know, do me a favor," a clearly agitated Boxer said. "Could you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am?"
"Yes, ma'am," Walsh replied.
"It's just a thing, I worked so hard to get that title, so I'd appreciate it, yes, thank you," she said.
"Yes, senator," he answered.

Can you imagine the arrogance and sense of self importance that Boxer has? Or is a streak of insecurity? With all the problems the nation faces, she wastes a moment of national time making sure a General refers to her as “senator” instead of “ma’am.” It would have been one thing if General Walsh had called her “Barbie” or something like that. But, for a military officer to be using the protocol salutation to a person of higher rank and be so dressed down is a sign of the self importance of Senator Boxer, not the rudeness of General Walsh.

To his credit, General Walsh handled the matter with grace. However, Senator Boxer’s sense of self importance and flat arrogance is clear. That leaves VUI to offer this to Senator Boxer: “Check the ego, ma’am.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009


President Obama and the Secretary of State Clinton, who is recovering from a broken elbow, have been cool to the Iranian uprising in the wake of the Iran’s most recent Presidential election. While some conservatives are commenting that the President and Secretary of State are being weak on Iran, their cool stance is correct.

First, the alleged corrupt President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is looking for some sort of way to tie his troubles to the United States. The less the United States has to say officially the better. Ahmadinejad has already attempted to tie the civil unrest to the United States. Ahmadinejad’s worries are a chink in the armor that has dominated Iranian government and culture since 1979.

While on paper the President of Iran is the leader of the nation, the real leader is the religious leader, the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i. Since the religious revolution of 1979, the religious leader of Iran has been a final voice on all state matters, someone whose decisions are seen as infallible. In the past thirty years, no religious leader in Iran has reversed himself as Khamene’i has on the Iranian Presidential election. First, the Grand Ayatollah certified the victory of Ahmadinejad then the Grand Ayatollah called for a limited review of the election ballots. Such is significant. When the supposed voice of God on Earth reverses or shows doubt, it opens the nation he leads to consider alternatives. The infallible voice of God on Earth has apparently admitted he is unsure.

The Iranians are facing a potential big change. The religious leaders who live in the 6th Century are having a problem with 21st Century communications. Further, people who live everyday lives in Iran are apparently tired of not have relatively good lives in exchange for pleasing the notions of guys who run around in nice sheets and encourage the people to pick a fight with the rest of the world.

The United States has a real interest in the opposition finding a way to overthrow the status quo in Iran. But, the United States cannot hit the people over the head, so to speak with the issue. The United States has to be patient and subtly support the 21st Century communications the Iranian opposition is using move their nation to being a real and viable member of the world community.

However, make no mistake, the riots and the power of the Iranian opposition should not be dismissed. It is a significant sign that progress can be made with relations with Iran. However, if the current regime prevails in the current conflict, the United States cannot recognize the legitimacy of the current regime. Wise silence in the Iranian election controversy cannot be followed by treating the current regime as a legitimate voice of the Iranian people. That would reward corruption and religious extremism. While it is wise for the United States to be silent now, if the current Iranian regime prevails somehow, it is best for the United States to wait on a more legitimate government of Iran to deal with. For now, all those that love freedom are pulling for the Iranian opposition to be heard and to prevail.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who is not running for Congress?

Fourth District Congressman Bob Inglis has made some real political enemies in the Republican Party, sparking four opponents so far, including political heavyweights State Senator Dave Thomas and Solicitor Trey Gowdy.

As if that is not enough, the decision by Third District Congressman Gresham Barrett to run for Governor instead of re-election has spurred nearly every elected Republican with a heartbeat to consider running for the seat. A slew of candidates have already started running. Rumors, according to The State have everyone from the aged State Senator Billy O'Dell of Ware Shoals to Solicitor Strom Thurmond, Jr. in Aiken considering a run for the seat. It is doubtful either O'Dell or Thurmond will make the race, but with things so wide open, it is understandable how the media and the people would look for someone to be a clear front runner.

The truth is that there is no clear front runner in the Republican Party in the Third or Fourth Congressional District. The Second Congressional District could soon join the list. Congressman Henry Brown could face a challenge from the late Carroll Campbell's son, Tumpy, who apparently has realized that Governor might be too big of a job to first run for.

The Congressional races in South Carolina shaping up for 2010 show that the South Carolina Republican Party has such dominance that it is becoming like the South Carolina Democratic Party of years ago, in that those wishing to aspire for office choose to fight in the Republican Primary, knowing it is the deciding election.

The dominance of the South Carolina Republican Party is likely why Republicans are wondering "who is not running for Congress in 2010?"

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lightning bugs and summer

Just as sure as our old buddy Joe Dell going around without his shirt, lightning bugs are a sign that summer has come again to the South. One thing is for sure, lightning bugs are far easier on the eyes than Joe Dell’s grey haired beer belly. Further, lightning bugs do not brag about beers drank, women never had, etc.

But, lightning bugs are a sign that summer is here in the South. Just last night, I sat on my porch and watched a few of them light up the sky around me. It reminded me of my childhood, when I once tried to capture such lightning bugs and put them in a Mason jar with air holes punched in the top.

Capturing things and putting them in a Mason jar has to be a Southern thing. Remember when mama and them would give you two or three Mason jars, and you would punch holes in the tops and put things like lightning bugs and big grasshoppers in them? Chances are if a kid did such today, some sort of political group would protest and call that kid a monster.

But, 30 years or so ago, we kids called such fun and even learned from it. We could also ride our bikes all around town without our parents worrying about some molester. Summer was a time when we as kids looked forward to going outside and playing. There were not only activities like riding our bikes, but swimming and fishing. When the evening got late and you could see the lightning bugs, it was time to go home. There were no mobile phones, only the sight of lightning bugs and the booming sound of mama’s voice. Neighbors would tell you, “It is getting dark, you better get home.”

Oh, how the world has changed. There are perverts out there like never before. Further, let’s be frank, if a parent today let a little kid play outside all day, chances are the South Carolina Department of Social Services would be called in by some neighbor to investigate a possible child neglect case. Frankly, today’s kids are overprotected in so many ways and spend way too much time on computer and video games instead of being outside and interacting with the rest of the world.

I guess that is why today’s generation of kids will never get how much lightning bugs mean. To me it means summer is here. The lightning bugs remind me of the carefree days of my childhood. For today’s generation of kids, summer means finding Joe Dale, shirtless, holding a beer and cursing on You Tube.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lessons from Maggie

With the current Republican Party trying to define what it is in the wake of the cult of personality that is President Obama, perhaps a few words from the old Iron Lady of the United Kingdom will remind Republicans it is about taxes and government size, not school choice or whatever. Lady Thatcher put it well in these remarks to the House of Commons. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Expect a call for tax increases by the end of the year

So far, the Obama Administration has borrowed and spent massive amounts of money without asking for a hefty tax increase. That spending and borrowing has a cost to the economy.

There are already pressures on the bond market, resulting in long term interest rates rising. That rise in long term interest rates is dampening the recovery that was starting to bud in the housing and mortgage markets. It also is hampering business borrowers.

Further, the big borrowing is getting the world's attention. The value of the dollar is not what it once was. China and Russia are looking to invest in the International Monetary Fund instead of in dollars. Oil prices are going back up, despite low demand, because oil is traded in dollars and dollars are less valuable on the world market with the huge debt financing of the United States.

In the fall, the President and the Congress are going to address health care and most of the plans being offered provide for some sort of universal coverage. The merits of such can be discussed in another post. The fact is such a plan will take even more government spending. Thus, increasing the pressures discussed above.

I realize that the above reading can be boring to some. But, that boring stuff is what causes your gas prices to go up, mortgage rates to rise, and inflation to increase, affecting the price of every good and service one obtains.

The Democrats will correctly note that without some sort of way of paying down the debt, the credibility of the American dollar will be severly compromised. I believe that they will use the looming crisis, caused by their big spending and borrowing, to call for a tax increase. Perhaps it will be targeted on the higher end tax bracket. However they package it, they have created a situation in which the United States government needs more revenue. The Democrats in Congress and in the White House will see raising taxes as the answer.

Unfortunately, raising taxes will likely put the economy back down, resulting in continued low revenues in regards to the spending.

There has been no President of the United States since Franklin Roosevelt who has so expanded the role of the government in the economy. President Obama's charming personality has created an atmosphere in which he and his allies in Congress are able to dramatically change the role of the federal government in American business. Even Franklin Roosevelt could not fathom the depth of our growing debt or the size of our growing government.

Former President George W. Bush overreacted to September 11th with the creation of a new cabinet department. President Obama is not dismantling that department or the powers of it given to the government. Instead, President Obama is moving the United States more to a level of soft socialism.

Throughout history, the free market has been best to create wealth. When a business failed, a better business came along and took its place. However, if the government taxes the potential new businesses in order to pay to prop up the failing ones, then the market itself eventually collapses. It happened in Brazil in the 1960s.

Perhaps President Obama and the Congress are soft socialists and believe in a state controlling business. Perhaps they are just responding to the big businesses that gave them hefty campaign contributions. Whatever the reason, they have created a debt crisis. One I predict they will compound by raising taxes. Wait and see.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Time for Anderson County Council to move on

Anderson County is suffering from serious job losses in this current economy. Plants are closing; others have workers on part time schedules. Yet, our county government seems obsessed with the past. Instead of working to make sure outside business investors know how great a place Anderson can be for their investment dollars and job creation, our County Council is embroiled in a legal saga with the past County Council and Administrators.

The saga has gone on for years, and, frankly, both sides are to blame. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent on lawsuits and investigations that result chiefly in Anderson County being a place where businesses from the outside fear to invest.

Let’s be frank. Getting even with Joey Preston and the past council will not put food on the table for laid off workers in Anderson County. Vindicating Joey Preston and the past council will not pay the electric bill for a family whose main bread winner is laid off. Those who continue the saga have no idea of the impact that they have upon real people’s lives. Lost jobs and business investment over Anderson County being seen as in turmoil means real lives are impacted. Real people struggle. Real opportunities are missed for so many. I wonder at times if the hardcore partisans on either side of the great saga of Anderson County have any idea how they impact people’s lives. I wonder if they have any compassion for their fellow man whatsoever.

It is far past time for the great saga to be concluded. If there has been criminal wrongdoing, let SLED and the Attorney General deal with it. But, please Anderson County Council; think for a moment about all those people losing jobs in the county and stop the taxpayer funded investigation and work to create an atmosphere in which business does not run away.

Think on it. How does one look in the eye a man laid off from Mt. Vernon in Williamston or Timken in Honea Path and tell him that spending taxpayer money to get Joey Preston and the previous council is worth more than trying to find that man a job in Anderson County? What do you say? “Sorry about you not having a job, but I will get Joey Preston?” Chances are the laid off guy does not give a damn about Joey Preston. He just knows he cannot find a job around home in Anderson County.

Joey Preston and the past council are gone. The current Anderson County Council members have the responsibility now. They can use their power to put an end to the saga and create a united front for investment, or they can ignore the plight of real Anderson County people and keep on their quest to make sure they get even with their past foes and the county is a place in which no one wants to invest.

Clemson controversy is a symptom of a larger problem

Controversy is swirling around allegations Clemson manipulated survey responses to get high academic ratings by US News and World Report. The State is reporting that Clemson President Jim Barker rated Clemson the number one school in America. That is expected of a university president. What is not expected is the fact that Barker low balled other colleges and universities. Other published reports have a former Clemson official stating that was how things were done at Clemson.

Indeed, Clemson, who now sits at #22, has a stated goal of making the Top 20 public universities in America as rated by US News and World Report. No wonder they are pulling out all the stops. That is the Clemson way.

There is nothing wrong with wanting win. However, it is a bit unsettling that an institution funded with taxpayer dollars seems so obsessed about what a magazine thinks. It is a symptom of what is wrong with American education and to an extension, American business today. Educators often do not seek to actually produce achievers in the world, but just to be seen by someone as doing such. In that context, weighing your vote towards your university in a magazine survey seems the right thing to do.

It is at the heart of what makes American business non-competitive. Simple sales positions, once filled by high school graduates with drive and determination to get the job done now require M.B.A.s. It does not matter if the M.B.A. can get the job done; he or she has a piece of paper that says that they can. The high school graduate who knows his product well, and knows how to deal with people, he is no longer considered today.

The irony is college presidents like Barker talk about competing in the world economy and jockey to get their magazine of choice to recognize their institutions as the place to go to college, but they have created an atmosphere in which the people who actually built the American economy into a juggernaut could not be a part of today’s economy. Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, even Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, all of those legendary names would be left out of the new American economy. Yes, even Bill Gates would have trouble if he was starting out today.

The academic elite have shut down a large part of the American dream. There was once the notion that a man could go to work in a factory, and if he worked hard and learned his business, he could rise up to run that factory. Today, he only could if he got a piece of paper from a college that said he could. Now, Barker and those like him want business to depend on where that piece of paper came from. Rewarding people in business for things not directly related to actual business performance is what has caused the great American economic engine to sputter. It is disgusting that we taxpayers seem to be paying for it.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day Plus 65

It is hard for most of us to accept. But, more people died training for the D-Day invasion of France than who died in the Iraq War. Thousands more died to free Europe from Nazi tyranny. Thousands of men died that day. Those who survived pushed forward to create a beach head against the evil that was Nazizm.

Those men who died and those men who pushed forward were mostly just average guys, the sons of farmers and mill workers. They risked all that they had and all that they would ever going to be for the ideal of freedom. People prayed for them. But, the issue was not decided.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower kept in the breast pocket of his shirt a speech about the failure of the D-Day invasion. Even the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces had his doubts. For the D-Day invasion was the most daring military operation in human history. It was debatable that such an operation could succeed.

But, the D-Day operation did succeed. The heroes that died on the beach and the heroes who fought on to establish the beach heads changed the world as we know it. They were fighters for liberty, not for conquest.

Twenty five years ago, then President Ronald Reagan put it best in his remarks. Watch them below. Let us never forget those boys who took on a juggernaut while they were sea sick and afraid. Somehow, those American boys found a way to make it work. We seem to forget how bad war really was at one time and how much we owe to those who gave the full measure of devotion to our country.

Rumors about Rex

Last week, Will Folks over at the FITSNEWS blog reported that South Carolina Superintendant of Education Jim Rex is running for Governor as a Democrat in 2010. Folks’s post suggested that Rex was unhappy with the Democratic Party and that was why he was running.

It made a good story, but unfortunately, sources close to Rex and within in the Democratic Party tell VUI such is not the case. Last week, Rex made it clear to his senior staff that he has not made a decision about running for Governor, and allies of his seem to think he will run for re-election to his current post, if he runs at all.

Let’s look at the political realities of Jim Rex. Rex won a razor thin victory against an incredibly inept Republican candidate in 2006. Since that razor thin victory, Rex has done nothing to distinguish himself as the leader of the Democratic Party in South Carolina. While Folks’s post seems inaccurate in a riff between Rex and the Democratic Party, it is clear that Rex is not the leader of the South Carolina Democratic Party.

That role seems to have fallen upon Kershaw County State Senator Vincent Sheheen. While Sheheen does face some Democratic Primary opposition in the 2010 Governor’s race, it is clear that Rex would have a very difficult fight against the State Senator from Kershaw County. Sources tell VUI that Rex faces the following choices: run for re-election, run against Senator Jim DeMint or retire from the field.

Perhaps Rex will end up running for Governor, but one thing is for sure right now, those who are around him and know Rex best say he has not decided to do so. Other allies of Rex are gearing up for his re-election campaign, not a race for Governor.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A few nuggets from small town Southern life

VUI has been writing about some serious, or as the late Lewis Grizzard once put it, “searus” stuff over the past few months. Perhaps it is time to be a little more light hearted and look at the lighter side to small town southern life in South Carolina.

First, of all, we got to eat. It seems everything we do in the South revolves around food. We want to watch a ball game with people or socialize, we got to cook something. A friend or neighbor dies; we have to carry the family food. If we don’t we are shunned by all that know us. The comedian James Gregory had a line in one of his routines that went, “Sorry about your brother in law, here’s some baked beans.” That remark sums up the South and food. If there is a major event, we got to eat.

Of course, while we are eating at those major events there is always the gossip spreader. It can be a man or woman. These are the people are who are still ticked that a speech from President Reagan knocked off the Peanuts Special in 1982 and think their friends and neighbors were part of the plot to do so. They find fault in everyone, and stories about everyone. They even make them up. It is great entertainment to some and downright outrageous to others. The more gentile among us simply say, “Bless their hearts” when confronted with the gossipers’ tidbits. The less gentile called them crazy nutcases. We who live in Anderson County, SC, have to call them Anderson County Council. However you see them, those passive aggressive, tall tell tellers are a big part of Southern culture. We in the South seem to eat their bull manure up. We all seem to be like Olympia Dukakis’s character in the move Steel Magnolias in that “if you don’t have anything good to say about anyone, come sit by me.”

That brings us to the redneck bragger and bull manure artist. I dub him Joe Dale. Joe Dale is typically about 60 years old and still likes to parade around with his shirt unbuttoned or off. The Joe Dales among us offer the purest bull manure and the highest form of entertainment. Here is how a typical story from Joe Dale will go after he has a six pack or so in him.

“Yeah, I rebuilt that truck of mine from scratch. Put it all together myself. Then I drove over to Joe’s house and whooped his ass and then I did his wife. She wanted it. She keeps wanting it. I was drunk that night, and wrecked that truck. But the law knew better than to deal with me. I know them all and they ain’t gonna mess with me. I got connections. I got Joe to pick me up and take me back out to where I wrecked that truck and I pushed it back over on all four wheels and drove it home. Then the old lady started in on me about cutting the grass. I told her to cut it her damn self.”

The someone dares to ask, “Joe Dale, weren’t you out cutting grass yesterday?”

That sets Joe Dale in a rage. “ I will whoop your ass, you sunnabich!” If there is anything worse than not presenting food at a major event, it is questioning Joe Dale’s exploits.

At least a friend of mine is honest enough to tell it like it really is. Let’s call him Billy Bob. Billy Bob told me once, “yeah, I lied about some things, but don’t go telling my wife, because that woman has a CWP. This rooster would wake up a hen if that woman knew all I talked about.” Even mama and them can’t instill that type of fear. But, it does give the gossipers something to talk about, especially in the down time at church on Sunday morning or while they are waiting from their grits and eggs at breakfast.

(For you Lewis thanks for the inspiration.)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Trashing public education and offering snake oil solutions

It is increasingly clear that the Education Opportunity Act was shelved for next year so it can be a political weapon against Republican legislative candidates in the 2010 primaries. An example of how that situation is going to play out was given by the Voice for School Choice blog recently. VSC lamented about the low literacy rates in Charleston public schools, but offered a glimmer of hope that would be reversed with the targeted private school tuition tax credits offered in Education Opportunity Act. (Chances are that those folks and their comrades would tell you the heat and humidity next summer in Charleston will not be as bad if the Education Opportunity Act passes.)

Never before in the history of South Carolina has a political faction been so hell bent on attacking public education and those who work within it. While there are reforms needed, and there is the occasional egotistical teacher or administrator who does not live in the real world, by and large the people who work in public education are not stupid, evil people striving to corrupt children. Instead, they work hard at their jobs, raise their families, are active in their churches and charities, and are good neighbors and friends, even to those who rail against their profession. Only in the well paid for climate created by the Sanford/Rich movement do smart people who chose to forego big money and use their talent to teach children get caste as corrupt, evil, incompetent, etc.

Such contempt by the Sanford/Rich crowd goes beyond typical party or conservative versus liberal politics. Take Governor Sarah Palin for example, she accepted the education money for Alaska in the federal stimulus but declined the money on energy issues, because she correctly saw the strings attached to such money requiring states and localities to comply to federal building codes as amended by the Obama Administration as a violation of states ‘ rights. I suppose Sanford sees Palin as a RINO. It is interesting that Sanford had no problem taking that portion of the stimulus money with those strings attached. It was the public education money that made Sanford lawyer up and hit the talk shows. Burdening South Carolina with federal building codes was not on his mind.

Maybe Mark Sanford really believes that public schools are evil places that no child should be exposed to. I tried to convince my parents of that in the first grade. Of course, I felt the same way about private schools as well at the time. Like a child throwing a fit, Sanford and his well paid cohorts are lashing out over not getting their way.

The hard truth is we are stuck with paying for those students who have no paid voice in the tuition tax credit debate. We all live in the same place. While parents have responsibility, eventually, if public education opportunities and chances are not offered to the least among us, we end up paying more in the long run. No tax credit or voucher can fix that. If a big government program, like the Educational Opportunity Act, stepped in and even did what it promised, giving every parent a chance to pull their kids from “failing” public schools, all that would be left is students who would fail at a higher rate. So be it, some will say. Well, unfortunately, that big government program would lead to more big government spending, as we the people would have to pay more for social programs, law enforcement and jails to deal with those failing students as they become failed adults.

If corporations followed the measures suggested in the Education Opportunity Act and donated to private school scholarship funds to avoid paying general state taxes, then the state would be faced with devastated public schools in bad areas producing social costs and less revenue to deal with those social costs. Such is typically the case when someone advocates a big government program that seems to be a panacea for all the problems of a major issue like education. As with other such programs over the years, big money clouds the thinking of so many.

It is amazing how being conservative now in South Carolina is to be for a big government give away and for less fiscal responsibility. It is the situation we get when politicians stop thinking for themselves and instead strike a balancing act between what their donors want and what their highly paid handlers tell them sounds good. The result is in South Carolina, the constant attack on public education, with no real solutions offered, just the snake oil, I mean, the Education Opportunity Act. Like the folks who buy the snake oil to heal an ailment, we the taxpayers will eventually have to pay for the real cure after we have paid the snake oil salesman.

Murder of abortion doctor is morally reprehensible

Sunday morning 67 year old Dr. George Tiller was shot to death in his church in Wichita, Kansas. Police have a suspect in custody, but publish reports have the police as not releasing a motivation for the murder as of this posting.

Despite the fact that the police have not released a motivation, the media, the President of the United States, pro-abortion groups and pro-life groups have all assumed the motivation was the fact that Dr. Tiller performed late term abortions.

Several thoughts come to mind about the murder of Dr. Tiller. First, let it be clear that abortions for the purpose of birth control are a selfish and immoral act. Further, late term abortions for the same purpose are abhorrent and a blight on American society. The damage such procedures do to women both physically and psychologically are not talked about by those who claim to champion women’s rights.

However, murder is morally reprehensible, no matter what deranged feeling of doing the right thing the murderer has. Murdering abortion doctors and otherwise attacking abortion clinics is not approved or accepted by the vast majority of those who hold the pro-life view. Indeed, the vast majority of those who hold the pro-life view see such acts as despicable and condemn them without reservation.

Chances are, though, the media will not address how most pro lifers condemn the murder of Dr. Tiller. Instead they will dwell up on it, and try to connect it with other cases and create an atmosphere in which those who dare to question something like late term abortions are looked as a nutcases. It is interesting to note that the President of the United States would officially comment on the murder of a doctor in Kansas before the police released officially the motivation for the murder. Would the President so quickly issue such a statement if a minister who was against gay marriage was murdered?

It is a sad time in our country, when the murder of a man, regardless the reason, becomes a political point to be made. How craven have our political elite become? VUI condemns the murder of Dr. Tiller, whatever the motivation, and offers prayers to Tiller’s family and friends.