Saturday, February 28, 2009

The far left takes aim at how you wipe your backside


You read the title right. Environmental activists and their supporters in the world media are taking aim at American behinds, specifically the paper Americans use to wipe their behinds with. The Guardian, of London, is reporting that Americans use so called “soft” toilet tissue to wipe their behinds and that is hurting virgin forests and that the environment is harmed by the use of such tissue more than anything else. Gulp.

That is right, folks. If you thought liberals were invading your life when they try to tell you what kind of car to drive, how much electricity you should use, and how your money could be spent better by them, you can brace yourselves for their call for sweeping changes in your most personal of life choices: wiping your backside.

It would be funny if it was not true. The hard truth is people who claim that people should be left the personal freedom to engage in health decisions such as abortions without any interference, engage in gay marriages by a sense of right, and be free to communicate with terrorists types without any sense of monitoring now want to make you feel guilty for what you wipe your backside with.

It is incredibly nuts. To invade one of the most personal of choices, what to wipe one’s backside with after defecation, is illustrative of how the liberal mindset works. The liberals know what is best for you. You do not. What is next? A special tax on those who buy soft tissue and a tax credit for those who buy “John Wayne” tissue, (John Wayne tissue is rough and takes no crap off anyone.)? Should we tax by the tissue sheet to punish those who want that extra wipe to make sure that they got things clean?

Where does this nonsense end? Again, all of this would be funny, save for the fact that it is taken so seriously by the far left.

The far left seems to want to throw the world back into the Dark Ages. One of the comforts of life that Americans enjoy, be they poor or rich, is bathroom tissue. The poorest of Americans can take some sense of pride in knowing that Kings and Queens in history did not have the luxury of a roll of toilet tissue. Now, those on the far left want to take that little nugget of self esteem away and make folks feel guilty for wiping their behinds. What shall we hear about next? The evils of toothpaste or mouthwash? Or is aftershave and perfume offensive to the far left? What about the idea of “running water” itself? Where does the madness of the far left end?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

SC Legislative Black Caucus owes some apologies



The South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus staged a walkout recently as the House was voting on a bill that would require photo identification for voters. The State newspaper reports the reasoning behind the walkout in a quote from Rep. David Weeks of Sumter. In the State, Weeks said, “We oppose this bill because we see it as a throwback to times when people were not allowed to participate in the process.”

In other words, the SC Legislative Black Caucus and some of their Democratic Party allies staged a political stunt to contend that requiring people to have proper identification to show that they are in fact the legal registered voter eligible to vote is equal to things like old poll taxes, literacy tests, and the old Democratic Party “White Primaries.” That notion comes from people who seem to have no problem whatsoever in requiring background checks and other restrictions upon people who exercise their constitutional right to purchase a firearm.

The walkout was an insult on several levels. First, it is an insult to the legislators who crafted the measure to bring about more integrity to the election process. The legislation South Carolina is considering is similar to other legislation in other states that has passed constitutional muster before the United States Supreme Court. Further, challenging voters already is a difficult process in South Carolina. If a white man who looks 35 shows up to vote with a registration card that has his age as 50, it is not easy to challenge the vote. A photo ID protects everyone from shenanigans from all sorts of political interests. It prevents a relative or a friend from getting your voter registration card somehow and casting your vote as he or she sees fit. Indeed, such a measure is not disenfranchising, it is empowering to people who, at times, have been taken advantage of by someone close to them who voted on their behalf.

Second, the walkout was a tremendous insult to African Americans in South Carolina. Not one member of the staff of VUI believes for a moment that African Americans are more likely to comment voter fraud or not smart enough to get some photo identification. Those who argue such things are simply ignorant.

However, what is striking about the walkout and the reasoning behind it is that the Legislative Black Caucus has, albeit unintentionally, created the impression that the African American community that they claim to champion will not be able to vote because they are either unwilling or not smart enough to verify their identifications at the polls. It is ironic that people who contend they look out for African American interests have so little faith in the integrity and intelligence of the people they claim to champion.

It appears that the Legislative Black Caucus is less worried about African Americans than trying to preserve some sort of voting machine. It has happened before. In New York in the 1800s, the Irish voters were used by Tammany to produce votes. An Irishmen would vote in the morning with a beard, and vote again as someone else clean shaven. The practice did not mean that the Irish were stupid or corrupt, it just meant some political operatives who really did not care about them went and found who they could and paid them to vote more than once. At the time, the Irish were the poor and the outcasts of New York, and most who voted as the Tammany Machine told them to needed the money.

VUI does not contend that is what the Legislative Black Caucus is doing or defending. However, requiring photo identification for all voters would forever eliminate Tammany like exploitation of voters. It is incredible that any political leader or pundit who claimed to stand up for the average man and woman would not want their votes protected so. It is even more incredible that any politician or pundit would caste an effort to empower voters taken advantage of as denying the right to vote. It is a great insult to many, and deserves an apology.

Comment moderation is back for good

VUI hates moderating comments. VUI believes in freedom of speech. However, things are getting a little out of hand with some of the recent comments. So, from this point forward, comment moderation is back. The staff of VUI are going to work with each other to try to make sure legtitmate comments get up as quickly as possible.

When you comment, keep it relatively clean and keep it on subject.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

The Mexican Mess


While the major media, politicians and pundits seem to occupy themselves recently with the economy and far off foreign affairs issues, (VUI pleads guilty as such with the previous post), there is a storm brewing in the backyard of the United States. Mexico is on the verge of being a failed state.

Throughout Mexico, criminal gangs are taking more and more authority and making the government of Mexico appear weak and unable to control the situation. The failure of the Mexican government to provide law and order is obvious in the city of Juarez, which is a large city that is close the Texas border.

Thousands have died in recent months in Juarez due to the criminal gang violence. The streets are simply not safe there. The police chief of Juarez recently resigned under the gang pressure. Local political and police leaders are threatened, assassinations attempts are being made against them and their families, and chaos is ruling.

The chaos in northern Mexico has been so bad recently that Texas Governor Rick Perry asked for help from the Department of Homeland Security, and asked his state legislature, in these hard economic times, to find money for the state to beef up border security on its own. From various published reports, Governor Perry wants the federal government to provide Texas with 1000 "boots on the ground" to protect Texas from chaos overflow.

The Mexican government has pledged thousands of troops and federal police to the region. Frankly, it is debatable how effective that move will be. With the widespread corruption and fear throughout Mexico, who really knows where loyalties will land when the matter is decided?

The Mexican Mess, as VUI dubs it, is probably the child of the neglect of the United States in dealing with Mexico,indeed all of Latin America, with the proper attention over the past few years and the need of so called "progressive" American political figures to push for lax borders and immigration laws.

Thus, the Mexican Mess offers a brewing storm. The Mexican government is on the verge of collapse and losing sense of order. The millions of Mexican people living in the United States will certainly take an interest. Add to that the failure of the United States to secure its border, and a situation is born in which the criminal gang wars in the streets of Mexico could easily spread to Texas and beyond.

Now more than ever, it is time for the United States to get serious about border security and immigration reform. For nearly eight years, the United States has correctly worried about Islamic fascist terrorists. However, it is time for the United States to address the problem that is in its backyard.

If the United States does not, there is a the chance of serious unrest in Texas, and opportunities for enemies of the United States to move in and control our neighbor to the South. Do not doubt for one moment that those sharks VUI mentioned in the previous post are not watching the Mexican Mess and trying to figure out a way to use it to hurt the United States.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The sharks are after the United States


When there is blood in the water, sharks sense it and start to move in to attack to gain their interests. What is true in nature is true in politics. After all human beings are part of nature, and have among them their own political sharks.

There are several sharks out there that sense American blood in the water of international affairs.

The first sharks come from Pakistan. For over seven years, the government of Pakistan was a staunch ally of the United States in the War on Terror. Now, with the United States in financial crisis and seemingly unsteady, groups in Pakistan have forced the Pakistani government to give the Taliban a break in certain regions of the nation. The days of the Pakistani government fearing consequences for not standing with the United States seem to be over.

Then there is China. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared as begging for the communist nation to keep financing American debt. The Chinese played coy, knowing their position, and correctly judging that the new President would not push them on human rights at this time. For the first time in its history, the United States seems to a nation like China to be holding a weaker economic hand.

Then there is that shark North Korea. It is at times tempting to laugh at the “Great Leader” and his love of porn and his hermit nation. However, the “Great Leader” is gravely ill and his even crazier son is about to take power. North Korea has their nuclear program and their long range missile testing back up and running. Secretary Clinton used harsh diplomatic language against the North Koreans, stating that they would face grave consequences if they fired their long range missile. The problem is the North Koreans probably believe the United States is too weak to deal with them.

That leads us to the sharks found in Russia. Vladimir Putin is perhaps the most dangerous shark of them all. The ex KGB leader circumvented the spirit of the Russian constitution when his term of President expired and shifted the power to his new position of Prime Minister. Putin is Russia’s “strongman.” Further, Putin is no friend of the United States. He has quietly worked with the sharks in Iran and North Korea and openly worked with the shark in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, on joint military maneuvers. Further, Putin has moved to choke off the supply of natural gas to American allies in Western Europe, invaded Georgia, a friend of the United States, and basically dared the United States to work on a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. Putin is too smart to act in that manner if he thought the United States was strong enough to challenge his acts.

Indeed, the stories from the American media, and at times remarks from its leadership, about how bad things are in the United States have led to serious consequences around the world. The political sharks from South America to the Middle East to Central Asia to Russia to the Far East all seem to have the sense that the American ship of state is sinking, and that blood is in the water. Therefore, those sharks are pouncing. The major American media seems to dwell on economic issues at this time, but perhaps the real story is how the sharks of the international scene smell blood in the water and are starting to school around the United States.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The genius of Washington


Today is George Washington’s birthday. Most of us, over Obama Man's objections, recognize George Washington as the first President of the United States. However, reading over some of his writings and speeches pointed out the genius that he was.

First, he refused the superfluous honors those in his time tried to bestow. He decided that the title, “Mr. President,” was good enough. He could have been President for life, but stepped aside after two terms, setting up the notion that the United States would not be ruled over by some “great leader.” Washington at first refused his Presidential salary, but relented when those around him pointed out that if there was no Presidential salary, only rich men could be President.

There were other things that Washington did to establish the United States and the office of President of the United States. However, his words in his farewell address to the nation are haunting. Washington warned of sectional factions between the north and south, and those very factions led to the Civil War. Washington warned against parties and how the parties and their interests would slow down government progress on problems that needed solving. His words rang true with things like Iran-Contra, the Clinton Impeachment and the like in modern times.

Perhaps more importantly, Washington argued that the United States should have commerce with other nations but stay out of their business. He argued that the more we dealt with conflicts among other nations, the more independence the United States gave away. The actions of the United States over the past century or so makes Washington look like a prophet. American blood and treasure have been spent in places most Americans have never heard of over the past century, being it the fields of France or the caves of Afghanistan.

Washington stated: “…that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.”

In other words, Washington saw that the United States could spend its blood and treasure on behalf of some other people in another nation-state and get nothing but grief in return. The modern problems of Iraq and Afghanistan seem to succinctly fit Washington’s words.

Of course, modern scholars and politicians will say that Washington’s ideas are naive in the time we live in. Perhaps they have good arguments for such a position. However on our first President’s birthday, perhaps we should take a moment to pause and think about his genius and how he warned us to be practicable and not involve ourselves with the world’s business but instead concentrate upon our own. VUI is not saying Washington was right. All we ask is that you take a moment to think about his position and imagine how things would be if the United States had kept itself of other people’s business over the past century. People always talk about the Founding Fathers in political debates. But, if they want to be historically accurate, a Founding Father such as Washington would not do anything like our current leaders do. Washington was a genius.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gut check time for Governor Mark Sanford

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has put himself in a tough position. Governor Sanford has been an outspoken critic of the Obama stimulus package and appeared on various national networks stating how wrong the stimulus package is. Sanford was right in pointing out how money is being wasted on petty politics and such deficit spending will affect the next generation.

However, with an act that is typical of Governor Sanford not knowing the power he actually has, the Governor is waffling on whether or not to reject all or some of the stimulus spending offered to the state. From his first day in office, Mark Sanford seems unable to know the power he has. He blames the legislature for this or that, but fails to fire people in his own cabinet that frankly need firing. (DSS ring a bell?) Whether by his own calls or listening to advisors, the Governor constantly does not grasp what he can do and instead laments about what he can not do, which is oddly liberal.

Therefore, VUI will offer Governor Sanford some unasked for and likely unwanted advice. Over the past few weeks, Governor Sanford has spoken well against the stimulus package and gained national notice. Some rank him as a contender for the Republican Presidential nomination. If Sanford wants such, he can not “go wobbly now,” as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher told President George H.W. Bush during the lead up to the First Gulf War.

To keep his credibility, Governor Sanford has to reject at least some of the stimulus money. The right thing to do would be to reject any money that provided for one time federal funding of programs the state will have to pay for afterwards. There never seems to be any government program that ever dies. If Sanford allows the funding of a state program with one time federal funds where will the state be when it has to pay for it? If the state cuts it off, people will cry to high heaven about government cuts. If the state does fund the new programs then, it will have to raise taxes.



Further, making any kind of stand against the stimulus bill will be a boost to Sanford in the eyes of the core of the Republican Party. Frankly, anyone with common sense and time to read the bill knows it is a spending package loaded with special interest pork for nearly every cause the Democratic majority in Congress can think of.

Frankly, if a maverick Governor who is in a second term, and has spent his six years in office sparring with members of his own party over government reform, can not find the cohunes to at least reject some of the great pork bill, we are in deep trouble. It is gut check time for Mark Sanford and those around him.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rumors are Earl Capps to run for SC GOP Chairman

Rumors are rampant in some circles that fellow blogger Earl Capps, of the The Blogland, found at www.earlcapps.blogspot.com, is going to acknowledge the growing draft Capps for Chairman movement and throw his bandanna into the ring.

Capps is a longtime GOP activist and blogger known for his Reaganism, his rum and his rock and roll. Those wishing to bring back the 1980s seem willing to flock to Capps in his bid.

A confidential inside source told VUI that Earl Capps has already created the "Capps Plan," to counter his opponents. In the Capps plan, Earl Capps promises his first act as Chairman will be to expel from the SC GOP Lindsey Graham, Bobby Harrell and Mark Sanford. Then, Capps will ban Howard Rich or anyone who gets money from Rich from the headquarters. There is even a list of consultants out there, that the source would not reveal, that Capps is planning to make pee in a cup before they can make public statements about the Republican Party.

As Chairman, Capps supposedly promises to bring a Ted Nugent approach to conservatism. "Their (sic) will be some serious no nonsense political ass kicking, good ole rock and roll, middle aged women screaming and some passing out, and beer flowing," The source said.



Another GOP insider said in response to this development, "Well, we need someone other that the wannabe Alex Keatons out there to bring back Reaganism. What the Hell? Talk about rocking the vote!"

One of VUI's staff members did ask, " Do you think the guy will make all the women at headquarters have big hair and wear leg warmers? Will he bring in Metallica to fundraise? "

Who knows the answer to that. But, if you want 80s style Reaganism and Rock to liven up the SC GOP, Earl Capps is out there as your choice for Chairman.

24 hour waiting period on abortions makes sense

There is a bill winding its way through the South Carolina House, (H3245), that requires women to have a twenty-four hour "cooling off" period before having an abortion performed. Though VUI could accept an ammendment to the bill that allowed women whose lives were in danger to be exempt from it, the bill itself makes good sense on the whole.

For those who claim that they stand for a woman's right to choose, giving a woman 24 hours to think about things and weigh her options leads to a better informed decision. The choice crowd, if intellecutally honest, should have no problem with a law that provides that the most informed choice be made.

Afterall, we have mandatory waiting periods on things like home mortgage refinances and certain gun purchases. It makes sense that a major health matter such as an abortion has a similar "cooling off" period to assist the person making the decision in making a fully informed choice.

The bill has sparked great controversy among those who support the so called pro-choice movement. Perhaps some of that controversy could be avoided with an ammendment to the bill that allowed for women in immediate danger of their lives to be exempt from the waiting period. It is clear that a husband who faces the immediate choice of an abortion to save his wife's life should not have to wait 24 hours if in waiting those 24 hours he might lose both wife and baby in a medical holding pattern.

However, in the vast majority of abortions performed, the 24 hour waiting period after doctor consultation would lead to a better informed choice.

Again, those intellectually honest on both sides of the issue should not have a problem with the waiting period in most cases of abortion and with the exemption of women whose lives are in danger. Such a waiting period, with such an exemption, makes good sense. Given how the extremes on both sides tend to operate, something tells the staff of VUI that such sense might be hard to find in legislation. We hope we are wrong. There is a way to common sense available, and here's hoping the legislature finds it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Economic Crisis might make more sense now

If you think our government is spending money like a drunken sailor on shore leave, know the other nations of the G-8, the world's largest economies are doing the same. At the most recent G-8 Summit, Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa inspired confidence in this gathering of world leaders to fix the world economic crisis. It's been out there for a couple days, but its worth seeing again. You are looking at one of the eight most influential government finance policy makers on Earth.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Private Union votes are essential to workers' rights


One of the oddest things about the Obama Administration is their push to remove the requirement for a private ballot to be cast by a workplace deciding to have a union or not. It is puzzling how any rational political leaders, sans heavy donations from big labor, could think that removing the requirement of private votes on unions help protect workers’ rights or stimulate investment.

Having workers in plants under union consideration be subjected to things like an open vote or simply being signed up as for the union creates the potential for fraud and intimidation, from both sides of the question.

Several unsavory scenarios come to mind if the union vote is not secret or goes to some sort of sign up system. The sign up system being bounced around is troublesome. While the people who propose might be well intentioned, it is very possible those without good intentions on either the management of labor side could show up at a guy’s house one evening, with a couple of menacing characters in tow, and talk about the guy’s children and say nothing but imply a lot for a signature or for the guy not to sign on.

The same is true of the open ballot in the workplace. Suppose a worker works a fairly dangerous job that depends upon co-workers for his very safety. If feelings are hot, that worker would be pressured to vote the way those around him he depends upon feel. The same is true of management. Suppose a worker votes openly for the union, but it fails, then some member of management can put that worker on a list to watch or the like. Of course, people speak of laws against such, but we live in the real world.

And, in the real world when big entities like a big labor union or the management of a big business have big money at stake, they have those among them that will pressure the little man. That is why the secret union ballot is so important. It protects the average worker from the forces around him that have stakes other than his interests involved. It allows the worker to decide his best interests, without retribution. Whether it is collecting his union dues or cutting his pay, most of the time, both sides of a union fight have those among them that are not worried about the working man or woman. That is why the working man and woman must have the most basic of protections: the right to a secret ballot to decide such matters. Without that secret ballot watched over, the United States could go back to the 1930s, when groups of men with ax handles enforced pro union stands and business owners with guns answered them. (As a side not, one of the reasons labor unions are so weak in the South is because of the violence of that era and how families handed down stories about things like the “flying squadrons” that would come into to a mill town and harass it if was not union. You would think that big labor would have learned from that public relations black eye.) The American economy faces enough without reintroducing the hothead approach to labor-management relations.

If the Obama Administration is sincere about helping the working man and woman, it should let them keep their private vote on unions and look into pursuing criminal charges against the big managers on Wall Street who robbed the nation blind. If the Obama Administration actually looked at trying to put away those who took billions of taxpayer money for their own bonuses and retirement packages, they would be offering a change that VUI could start to believe in.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

President's Day Salute to John Tyler


Last year, VUI picked an effective, but little known President to recognize in the 11th President of the United States, James K. Polk. This year, VUI honors President’s Day again by recognizing Polk’s predecessor, the 10th President of the United States, John Tyler.

John Tyler became President of the United States after the death of President William Henry Harrison. Harrison served only thirty days as President of the United States, before dying from the ailments related to a bad cold. Tyler was the first Vice-President to ever take over for a President before a President’s term ended. There was debate about how Tyler should be addressed and what his powers were. In the weeks surrounding Harrison’s death, Tyler took the oath as President and secured support from the cabinet and the Congress to be the actual President of the United States. It set a precedent that dictated such transitions until the 25th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provided such. President Tyler paid a high cost for setting such a precedent. Months after his rise to the Presidency, he was disowned by the Whig Party. Thus, Tyler became a rare President to serve without official party affiliation.

Not having party affiliation did not prevent President Tyler from having a meaningful role as President. There are so many things about the Presidency today that we take for granted that pioneers like Tyler established. Tyler was the first President of the United States to send a diplomatic mission to China. President Tyler oversaw the resolution of one the last disputes with Great Britain, the Maine/Canada border issue, thus paving the way to the close friendship the two nations now enjoy. President Tyler applied the Monroe Doctrine to Hawaii, thus setting up the situation in which the once island nation would become part of the United States. President Tyler ordered the army to set up bases from the frontier of the time to the Pacific Coast, setting up America’s claim from sea to shining sea. In the last days of his Presidency, President Tyler signed measures bringing Texas and Florida into the United States. The annexation of Texas was by Congressional Resolution, not a treaty, something unheard of in those times.

President Tyler had negative precedents as well. As the first President to wield the veto for policy matters, Tyler was the first President to ever have a veto overridden by Congress. Tyler also had four Supreme Court nominees defeated by Senate, the most by any President. Indeed, the Supreme Court process was so difficult for President Tyler he left office on March 4th, 1845, with a vacancy still left on the court.

After the Presidency, President Tyler returned to private life. Yet, his sympathies for the South were ever present. Tyler’s appointment of John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, to the post of Secretary of State showed Tyler’s feelings on sectional matters as President. In 1862, John Tyler, the former President of the United States, would show those views distinctly via his election to the Confederate Congress. Though he would only live a few months to serve in the Confederate Congress, he stands as the only President of the United States to serve as an elected official in another national government.

Tyler’s tough stance on the Presidency would led his opponents to call him “His Accidenticy” Tyler’s decision to be a part of the Confederate Congress would cause others to call him a traitor. Indeed, it was not until the 20th Century that Congress would choose to honor his burial site as a burial site of a former President.

As we honor and observe President’s Day and think of the likes of Washington, Lincoln and the Roosevelts, let us not forget John Tyler. Tyler was a complicated man with true faults, but as President, he set many of the precedents we now take for granted from a President. Tyler, as an elected Vice-President who became President due to the death of another President, took over the office full forced and, with no political party backing, used every ounce of its power to continue the United States on a course of growth.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Welcome to Socialism, Comrades


In politics, late in the day on Friday is the best time to release bad news or do something that the people will not like. Such is especially true on a dual holiday weekend such as this one. With Valentine's Day on Saturday and President's Day on Monday, the conventional political wisdom is that the people and the press will have their minds elsewhere. Thus, there was no better time for the Democrats in Congress to bring socialism to the United States through their so called stimulus bill.

The Obama band aid, as we at VUI call it, was passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 246 to 183, with a handful of Democrats voting no. The bill could have been killed in the Senate, but three Republicans (Snowe and Collins of Maine and Specter of Pennsylvania), voted for the bill, giving it a 60-38 pass. You might remember Senator Arlen Specter from the Clinton impeachment. He was the Senator who caste an odd vote he said was based upon Scottish law. Go figure.

The bottom line is our elected representatives in the United States Congress voted for a spending bill in which they in all honesty could not have had time to read or debate. It was over a thousand pages long in its final form. Some of the things in the bill are chilling. There are salary limits for top executives and millions to mandate a central health data base. From now on, you go to the doctor for a broken toe, and the federal government will make sure your insurance company and future insurance companies know about it. Health privacy is now gone in America.

Further, the tax relief, which would have been the best thing to stimulate the economy, is weak. The average working man and woman will get about $13 a week in tax relief. That will not be in checks sent out this year. That will be reflected upon next year's tax return.

The absurdities go on and on. The one thing sure is that the government will play a role in the American economy like never before. There is money to be spent on all sorts of special interests such as state government bailouts, narrow agenda issues and the like. The thing that is really striking is that there are some in the Obama Administration who think that this bill did not spend enough. They are working with Democrats in Congress for another round of spending.

The bill passed by Congress was long on special interest spending and short on infrastructure and tax relief. However, what is more outrageous is that the Congress passed the bill without taking time to know what is actually in it. Our great leader wants it, so it must be done. The federal government holding major interests in financial institutions, floating state budgets, and eliminating health care privacy all adds up to one thing.

Welcome to socialism, comrades. Our great leader knows best how we should run our lives and businesses. Now, if Congress can just bring about the Fairness Doctrine so those who dissent are forced to share time with the government view, we will be in a position to vindicate third world African dictatorships and the old Soviet Union methods. Good grief, comrades.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Governor Sanford offers Anderson County a way out of the madness

Despite what some of the so called “Rhino” hunters out there think, there are times VUI agrees with Governor Mark Sanford. His deal for a port in Jasper County is one example. Another is his decision to send questions about Anderson County government operations over the past few months over to SLED to look at. That was a great decision for the people of Anderson County.

For far too long, Anderson County government has been divided by petty personal differences, lawsuits, accusations thrown about by both sides of the Preston v. Wilson saga, and general embarrassment. The current council, elected in the wake of a tax increase, seems worried more about spending taxpayer money on lawyers and accountants to evaluate the former council and ex administrator than about bringing about conservative reform to county government. There seem to be no winners in the vicious cycle of Anderson County politics, only losers. Those losers are we the people.

By asking SLED to look into things, Governor Sanford gave the current council a way out of the insanity. The current council can stop spending taxpayer money on lawyers and accountants to do their bidding, and let SLED do their job. Letting SLED do the investigating will allow the current council to get to the heavy lifting in local government of actually reforming county operations to reflect a conservative agenda. Let SLED find any wrongdoing and deal with it.

As for the Preston crowd,(those who defend the former administrator), and the like, they should drop their lawsuits and let SLED do their job. If they believe they did no wrong, it should not be a problem. SLED will vindicate them.

The same is true of the Cindy Wilson crowd. If they truly believe acts by the Preston crowd were criminal, they should relax and let SLED find the wrongdoing and deal with it.

Now that SLED is looking at things, the current council needs to get down to the business of running the county and trying to bring in jobs in this tough economy and run essential services. . Not one hour of their time or one dollar of county money should be spent on anything else. The big boys are here to find any wrongdoing. It is time for council to get on with governing.

The next few days will be telling about the current Anderson County Council. Will they take the Governor’s way out of the madness, or will they continue to use taxpayer money to fund lawyers, accountants and investigators into the past? Will they stand back and let an impartial party such as SLED look at things, or will they have their own taxpayer paid for vengeance ride? We shall see. But, let it be clear, Governor Sanford gave the current council a way out of the madness. If they choose otherwise, it is all on them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Obama Adminstration dealing with campaigning versus governing

One of the challenging aspects to a democratically elected government at any level is balancing the very different rhetorical styles in campaigning versus governing. The campaign rhetoric has to be shaped to present the candidate in the best light and his opponents in the worst light. The governing rhetoric has to not only find a way to work with opponents but address a wider range of listeners and interests. Those in power have to measure their words much more carefully than those seeking power, because the governing rhetoric can have a strong impact immediately among a wider audience. Not balancing Campaign and governing rhetoric with their proper weight can give a leader real political headaches.

The Obama Administration is learning that fact. The Obama campaign was one of the best campaigns ever waged in American politics. However, bringing that campaign rhetoric to the White House is having some mixed results.

The Obama Administration seems bent on presenting the United States economy as depression like. It seems to want to create low expectations for success in the next couple of years. It is smart campaign rhetoric. It creates a dire problem, and woe is me expectations. Which, when things turn around, as they naturally do in such situations, around 2011 or so, the 2012 campaign can be waged portraying Obama as the hero who beat the great problems better than even he thought he could.

However, such rhetoric is risky as it is being espoused by those with power. President Obama took a campaign approach to the economy in his Monday night press conference, and that was followed by the Secretary of Treasury coming across as a guy who hoped things would work out but was not sure in his Tuesday morning speech. The result was a sharp drop in the stock market Tuesday. Such was an indicator that gaming for 2010 Congressional elections and 2012 could actually cause people to lose their confidence in a recovery and thus do things that prevent a recovery. A big part of economics is psychological. If the leaders do not appear confident of recovery, the people will not, and thus they will not spend or invest, and the cycle deepens.

The President faces a tricky political situation. On one hand he probably has pressure from Democratic insiders to keep blaming Republicans for making things as bad as they can get and portray himself and Democrats as working to right things. On the other hand, the President, as the leader of the United States, has an obligation to reassure the American people that recovery can and will happen, and frankly, that things have been worse in this country's history. The former will reduce the Republicans to way of the Whigs if it works. If the the latter is eschewed and the campaign rhetoric goes too far and deepens the recession and lack of confidence in the economy, it will destroy Obama's Presidency and the Democratic party.

Such a balancing act is just on the economy. Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, etc, all are all balancing acts with such dilemmas. Over the next few months we will learn about President Obama and the people around him. Will they govern or will they campaign?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lincoln's 200th birthday


Of course, most with any sense know the name of Abraham Lincoln. To some, Lincoln freed the slaves. To others,Lincoln saved the union.

Yet, Lincoln was a far more complicated man than the caricatures of him we learn in history books.

Abraham Lincoln was a self made man. He was a man of complexity that abhorred both what we style now as big government and the institution of slavery. Yet, despite his stand against slavery, let there be no illusion that Lincoln saw blacks as his equals. He did not. Indeed, up to the time of his assassination, Lincoln wanted to send blacks back to Africa.

While such a stance by Lincoln can be seen as a great fault, his great skills outweighed such. One of Lincoln's great skills was laughing at himself and dealing with ridicule. If former President Bush and President Obama think they have it bad, they need only to look how Lincoln was considered a monkey and lampooned for his supposed stupidity by those in the northern newspapers who one would think would support his cause of keeping the union together. Yet, Lincoln learned to laugh at himself and did not flinch in his determination to keep the union together.

That determination to keep the union together would be tested beyond normal political lengths. Political rivals in Lincoln's cabinet conspired to keep him from election to a second term. Lincoln would lose a son to illness that drove his wife half mad. Lincoln would deal with Generals who slowly reacted to his orders as Commander in Chief. Lincoln would go through several Generals in charge of the War between the States before he found General Grant would actually be one that followed through on orders. Indeed, one of Lincoln's old generals would actually stand against Lincoln in Lincoln's effort to win re-election in 1864.

Lincoln won that election, only to have his second term cut short by the bullet of John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln's assassination was ironic. Lincoln was the one man in government who seemed likely to show his typical compassion to the South, yet, he was cut down by a man with Southern sympathies.

The fact that Lincoln's end was so ironic should not detract from what Lincoln was. Lincoln was the non church going man who appealed to God and religion in America's most trying times. Lincoln was the unlikely man who held together the nation through compassion and strength of character. The old rail splitter he was, Lincoln found a way to work with great Northern politicians to hold his will against the rebellious South. As such, Abraham Lincoln became known as the man who held the union together and moved it to the next level.

Lincoln did so surrounded in his cabinet by men who thought they were his betters. Lincoln did so by discouraging the malcontents among him for striking up war with the United Kingdom, who was pro South. "One war at a time, " Lincoln would caution the malcontents. Lincoln would also show remarkable acts of courtesy and compassion in his role of commander in chief.

Where there greater Presidents of the United States than Lincoln? Perhaps. Was there any President who understood his moral duty as President and did everything he could to live up to it, damn the political consequences? No. As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Lincoln, we should remember Lincoln's courage of conviction at a time in which such was not convenient or popular.

It was not just the physical size of Lincoln that stood tall in American history. His physical height aside, in the most trying time of American history, Abraham Lincoln stood the tallest. He deserves whatever honors the nation sees fitting.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sanford's Commerce Secretary has an idea about SC's Smiling Faces


At the recent cabinet meeting, Governer Sanford's Commerce Secretary offered that South Carolina's unemployed could be failing drug tests, and that's why there are so many unemployed.

It is interesting that Secretary Joe Taylor did not mention how his department has not coordinated very will with local economic developmment efforts. It interesting that the Secretary did not mention how if our leaders tell people from how dumb we are and how backwards we are, potential investors will go elsewhere. Pigs and hissy fits with the Employment Security Commission will not bring jobs to South Carolina.

It's brillant. When the Sanford Admininstration is not trying to convince people that South Carolinians are too dumb, they are trying to convince people we are too high. That approach really has to impress potential employers and investors in the state.

Who but Joe Taylor and Mark Sanford could come up with the notion that what causes our economic woes is that the state known for "Smiling faces, beatiful places," had too many of those smiling faces chemically induced?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Obama's trillion dollar aspirin

Friday night, the media was in a frenzy about how two Republican senators, Olympia Snow of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania had cut a deal to answer President Obama's call for bipartisan support of his economic recovery package. The two Republicans agreed on $800 billion of spending and limited tax breaks instead of $900 billion. Add the interest on the debt incurred and its still a trillion dollars.

If that is not disturbing enough, Senator Judd Gregg, President Obama's Secretary of Commerce nominee, requested a study of the Obama package by the non partisan Congressional Budget Office. For years, Democrats have quoted the CBO as much as pastors quote the Bible in a sermon. That is probably about to change.

The CBO's response to Senator Gregg's questions indicated that their numbers and analysis concluded that the Obama package would stimulate the economy for two or three years, but end up hurting the economy more over the next ten years than if the government did nothing.

The growing cost of debt service on the national debt would hamstring the long term economy of the United States. It makes sense. Throughout history, large public debt spent inefficiently has always created a crunch on private capital. Simply put, if money is being spent to service the national debt, it can not be spent on investment.

Think of it on a personal level. If you ran up a huge credit card and had to pay a larger and larger percentage of your income just to pay the interest payments, you could not go out and buy things or otherwise spend your money. Suppose you are hurting, and someone offers you a $100,000 line of credit. In the next couple of years, you could sustain yourself nicely. However, when it came time to pay back the debt, or at least service it with interest payments, your economic well being would be worse off if the costs of servicing your debt leaves you with less money to spend than you had before you incurred the debt, especially if you spent the money on things that did not generate more income for you.

Such an example happens to people all the time. So, why should we expect it not to happen to us as a people? Further, it is in crisis when people do not make rational economic choices. Again, why should we expect us a people not to have leaders who make the same irrational choices?

There are times when it necessary to borrow money to make things work. Perhaps the United States is at that point. If it is, it must spend that borrowed money wisely, on things like payroll tax cuts, investment incentives and infrastructure spending that makes the nation more competitive. The hodgepodge of political wish lists included in the Obama package is not that.

One would think the Congress and the people would learn from the TARP mistake. President Bush urged immediate action, and now no one seems to know where $350 billion went while the stock values of the institutions TARP was supposed to help continue to struggle.

The American economy is like a deep cut. Sure, a bandage, however expensive, might stop the bleeding for the moment. However, without stitches and antibiotics, the wound will not heal and will fester, causing long term harm. All the President and the Democrats offer the American economy now is a very expensive band-aid, with no stitches or antibiotics. In essence, the American economy is getting first aid for the cost of advanced medical treatment. As one crackerjack staff member of VUI put it, Obama's package is "like giving everything you have for an aspirin to treat a headache caused by a brain tumor."

Friday, February 06, 2009

SC General Assembly looking at changing how SC votes


One of the things being overlooked in this years South Carolina General Assembly session are some of the changes in South Carolina voting laws being proposed. Debate on several ideas is going on in the South Carolina House.

There are several proposals out there, some make sense, others do not.

The first is the idea of fusion vote counts. If a candidate gets the nomination of, for example, the Constitution Party and the Republican Party, then those votes are combined in determining an election winner. It makes some common sense in that it would thwart the will of the people for a candidate to receive more votes, via his or her tallies as a candidate for two parties, than the party nominee of one party who got more one party votes, but not the overall combined plurality. However, the last time in South Carolina such a vote was even close to mattering was in 1952 when General Eisenhower ran both as a Republican and Independent in South Carolina for President. He still lost the plurality to Adlai Stevenson.

The second idea being tossed around is allowing early voting. It is a popular trend around the nation, and neighboring North Carolina even set up early voting stations in shopping malls. There is the clich├ęd appeal of how early voting makes it easier for people to vote and participate. Perhaps it does. However, there is something uneasy about government having to basically beg people to participate in shaping their own lives. The current absentee voting laws in South Carolina are pretty liberal. If someone sincerely can not make it to the polls on Election Day, there is a way for them to cast their ballots. People fought, killed and died for us to be able to shape our lives through voting. Frankly, it is pretty selfish of people to demand that voting be at their convenience. If someone does not care enough to take the time go vote or to contact their local election officials and get an absentee ballot, perhaps that says how spoiled American are. There are people around the world who wait in long lines proudly to caste their votes. Early voting is just an admission of the spoiled nature of American democracy. It also creates headaches in making things run legally.

The third idea being debated in the legislature is meant to eliminate one of the headaches with elections: proving a voter is a valid voter through photo identification. I gained some experience with that problem working as my local party’s attorney for the last general election. During that work, I got to chat with different folks in both parties about how concerned they were that someone shows up to vote, presents a valid voter ID card, but looks twenty years younger or older or in some other way different than what is on the card. Those ballots can be challenged, but often such challenges get nowhere. Photo identification would eliminate those questions and ensure the integrity of the ballot. It is a good idea.

The fourth idea being thrown around is closed primaries. Under that plan, people would have to register by party and could only vote in the primaries in the party in which they registered. To activists in both major parties, that seems like a great idea to keep their parties pure. The problem is found in counties such as mine and such as Chesterfield for example. In my home county of Anderson, Solicitor, Sheriff, County Council, etc, were all determined in the Republican Primary. Likewise, in Chesterfield such local offices were decided in the Democratic Primary. Thus, a Democrat in Anderson would have no say in his local government officials and a Republican in Chesterfield would have no say in his local government officials. Such a closed primary system might work in other states, but the nature of South Carolina politics is so different from county to county. As such the current open primary is the best system for our state in that it allows the Democrat in Anderson to choose to either vote in the statewide primary for the Democrats he supports, or to vote to decide the local officials who govern him closest. The same is true for the Republican in Chesterfield. Knowing the diverse political makeup of our state, it is hard to understand how either party, if they thought rationally, would want to deny people the freedom to choose in which primary to vote in on Election Day.

Sadly, what is missing from all the election law changes are real reforms on financial disclosure. With both parties having political groups that do not have to disclose how much money that they get from whomever, it is still hard to tell whose influence the people are voting under.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sanford for President? Ha ha ha ha ha


While the Governor makes his media rounds against the Obama economic stimulus package, various voices, especially those blogs who are backed by Howard Rich and his cronies, as the Governor is, talk about Governor Sanford being a contender for President in 2012. Take a moment to compose yourself and let the laughter aside. The folks with big money who tried to buy South Carolina politics seem to want to take that agenda national.

There are several reasons such a plan might not work.

The first is Governor Sanford and his minions are RINOs. That's right, RINOs. They go around calling lifelong Republicans "Republicans in name only," but the truth is the Governor and his overpaid henchmen are the biggest RINOs of all. Their stands and performance in state legislative races show them to be so called "one trick ponies." If a candidate is for tax relief, economic development and doing the hard work of making government work accountable, who cares? The Governor's one trick, per the money his minions get, is school choice. Or should we say, lack of school choice. The Governor's private school tuition tax credit plan as it stands is right out of the good ole boy big government playbook. The Governor and his minions on the Internet call for poor folks to have real education choice with a $3000 tax credit for private school tuition. We at VUI call bull manure. How can a $3000 tax credit help a poor family pay $15,000 a year or so tuition. All it is big government welfare for the well to do, against Republican principles. That is why Mark Sanford is a RINO without doubt.

Then there is Mark Sanford's performance as Governor. The Governor has spent most of his six years in office complaining about what he can not do, and blaming this and that on the South Carolina General Assembly. However, cabinet department after cabinet department under him has had big failures. Sanford ignores such. The Governor seems "ho hum" about the people he appointed failing at their jobs. A few million stolen from DSS, who cares? The Department of Commerce unable to work with other government entities to brings jobs, well, its not putting the Governor or his minions off the payroll, so who cares? The Parks and Recreation guy does not show up for his job, who cares, the Governor prefers vacationing elsewhere. It goes on. To the Governor's folks, private tuition tax credits will fix it all.

That limited view, which has been documented to be well paid for, provides the next reason why Mark Sanford ought not be considered for President. The Governor simply can not get things done. Even the best of his ideas end up defeated in the South Carolina General Assembly, not because they are a bunch of RINOs, as the Governor and his would contend, but because the Governor does not have the courage or personality to work with people and broker the deals necessary to get things done. If the Governor runs for President, someone will ask him about the hundreds of veto overrides led by his own party, his lack of ability to get along with people on the most basic level, and his ultimate failure to get his agenda through what would seem to be a friendly state legislature.

Indeed, Governor Sanford's tenure as Governor of South Carolina is starting to seem a lot like President Grant's tenure as President of the United States. The Governor seems to have enjoyed two election victories, but also seems to turn a blind eye to the scandals he has control over and seems unable to work with the legislative branch. The problem is the Governor is no war hero, (his brief stint in the Air Force reserve medical corp after his election as Governor understood), and the American people seem to want politicians of both parties who work to solve problems, not create them.

So Sanford for President? Obama only hopes for such.

Yet another Obama appointee scandal in the making


On the surface, when then President-elect Obama named former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, it made sense. As a former Presidential Chief of Staff, Panetta knew how the intelligence system worked and how those around the President of the United States have to sift through the information to give the President the best information available. In past administrations, the President's White House Chief of Staff has been as informed on matters of state and intelligence as the President. Panetta also served as a Congressman from California for years and a White House Budget Director.

So, again, on the surface, naming the well seasoned Panetta to the CIA job made sense. However, as two other "big" names Obama first appointed to key positions, (Governor Bill Richardson at Commerce and former Senator Tom Daschle at HHS), have found out, scrunity upon appointment goes beyond one's name and past accomplishments.

Questions are being raised about the nearly $700,000 that Panetta took in last year in consulting a speaking fees. While no one can be faulted for making money for himself and his family, the amount and where some if comes from flies in the face of the President's efforts to end the control of big money and big lobbyists over government.

Among the more interesting amounts Mr. Panetta hauled in last year are payments of $56,000 for two speeches to Merril Lynch and $28,000 for a speech to Wachovia. If you remember, those two financial entities failed and looked for government assistance either directly or for the people who bought them out.

There are also questions about Panetta's ties to a non profit group that donated tens of thousands of dollars to his foundation and California State University and gave him some free plane rides.

More importantly, Panetta took $28,000 last year from the Carlyle Group, a business that either directly, or through businesses it controls, does business with the CIA.

Even if one assumes Panetta is a man who can forget his benefactors in such an office, it does not look good. It is yet another regretful event in the President's vetting system for key appointments. He has lost three already, has this one up in the air, and has an assistant AG appointee who worked for the porn industry. Which, come to think of it, the government is not in the porn business, but it does hire contractors such as Carlyle.

Over the next few days, watch the Panetta appointment develop into another failed nomination. If it does it will be the third big name from the old Clinton days to fail. The President needs to take a lesson from that. The President has filled his staff with people from the Clinton era, but perhaps it is time to find others to serve in key appointments. If Panetta does make it, look for it to a strictly partisan affair. Such will be telling.

If you thought Bush was dumb.....

Let me introduce to the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The Speaker, who is using her clout to load The President's stimulus package with her own wishlist, recently tried to sale why her wish list, uh, the stimulus was so important.

She cites that 500 million Americans could lose their jobs. Really? That is impressive, especially when one considers that according to the CIA World Fact Book, the population of the United States is estimated around 303 million.

Watch for yourself below. God help us, this is one of the leaders that are supposed to save us.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Phelps could face legal trouble in SC

Forget how embarrassing it was to South Carolina and the University of South Carolina to have photos of olympian Michael Phelps toking on a bong. One thing anyone who has followed South Carolina politics knows is that Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, plusses and faults aside, loves the media spotlight. Criminals of all levels beware, if Sheriff Lott can get some face time on tv, he's coming after you. Now it appears Sheriff Lott might go after Phelps for his indiscretions at a South Carolina party. Just more things to make South Carolina proud.

Anderson County Council needs to learn the power of forgiveness and moving on

To me, finding a way in local politics to serve Honea Path comes first in my mind. As such I have been quiet lately on the goings on of the Anderson County Council. I admit I did not want to write anything that might prevent me from somehow being able to make a real difference of the lives of the family, friends and neighbors I have here. Eventually, events lead a man to be a man. An event occurs, and a man has to decide whether he has principles or not. As the late Sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee, Buford Pusser once said, a man decides he either walks tall or he crawls.

I have decided to walk tall. That decision might cause some county officials to choose to not work with me to better the lives of the folks in my hometown over the short term. I wrestled with that in my mind for a long time. I am no fan of former Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston or the the most recent council. I think it is good Preston is gone from Anderson County government and the council members who walked lock step with him got defeated at the polls. However, irregardless of the local short term political consequences, I can not condone the actions of the new council. The new county council's obsession with the past and now its decision to fire Administrator Cunningham without cause cost taxpayers money and do nothing to create jobs, cut taxes or otherwise make this wonderful place that is Anderson County a better place to live. If new county officials choose not to work with me over that observation, I can live with that. They have not done one thing so far to help Honea Path, and again, that is howI approach things in local politics, right or wrong.



While I understand the frustrations of the new council, two things come to mind. First, I think Cunningham has a strong legal case. The county will likely end up paying him some money not to work. Second, the outgoing council spitefully threw gasoline on the political fire with how they handled things last December. The people are becoming the apparent losers in this egotistical test of wills. Forgive me if I don't worry about which side is right or wrong, for I worry about the folks in my hometown and how they face higher taxes, fewer economic opportunities and the like. Someone has to walk tall through this mess, and I am going to do my best to. Someone has stand up for the people of my town, and all the others in Anderson County. We deserve leadership on the things that matter. It is time we in Anderson County found a way to work together on the things we agree need to be done. The people deserve that.

It is time for less drama and more work. If the new council leadership needs to find a way to that path, they need not look any further than the Holy Bible. Jesus talked forgiveness and moving on not to espouse weakness, but to inspire strength. A man or woman who can forgive and move on is free to do what is right, not have their agendas tied to another. Joey Preston and his sidekicks hit me hard when I did not walk lockstep with them. I lost a longtime friendship and had rujmors about me spread that were just incredible. Of course, I admit that there is a part of me that I would love to see those folks pay. It is human. But, is also wrong.

To me, the people of Honea Path's well being means more than to me than seeking any form or justice or vengeance. That is why I turned to the teachings of Christ. Forgive, forget on some level, and be free to serve those who need serving. Besides, as God gives me mercy, I give mercy on others. How many of us, regardless of who we think we are, want justice and not mercy? I will not let the former council members or Mr. Preston decide one thing I say or act upon for the people of Anderson County. I hope the new council finds the same empowerment.

If some in Anderson County government are inclined not to work with me because of my principles, I will be disappointed. But, I can live with that. Someone has to say it is time to move on and worry about the business of the people first. I will never apologize for that or back down off that notion. Whatever service I can offer my town or my county, it will always be done in commenting about or doing things that I think are right, not in response to those who did wrong. It took me a long time to come this point. It is not politically correct and those who spend their lives planning the next political campaigns certainly think I am a fool. But, I say, let God deal with justice and do what is right for the people. That is how to truly make a difference in peoples lives.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Super Ads from the Super Bowl

It is great that the Steelers won the Super Bowl, but the ads again took so much attention this year. VUI will offer you some of the highlights of he Super Bowl ads aired and those not aired.

First, this ad from Pedigree, a dog food company encouraging people to get a a dog:




Then there is the ad from Go Daddy with Danica Patrick, the hottest race car driver alive :




There is also the ad that seems to the most popular one on the web:




Then there is the PETA tried to get aired, but was denied:




Enjoy and laugh. Let's just hope that celery in the PETA ad was of age. For the record, we think Danica Patrick is far hotter than the PETA babes. There is something about a woman who likes to ride at dangerous speeds.

Phelps makes SC hospitality look bad


Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, more than any Olympian had ever won in one set of games. As a result, Phelps was a national hero and the cliched toast of the town wherever he went. When he was in Columbia, SC, visiting the University of South Carolina, Phelps was honored at the football game against Arkansas, and apparently with a party thrown by students.

It is that party that is making the Olympic great and South Carolina look bad. The British newspaper, News of the World, published an article about Phelps's partying in Columbia and a picture of the champion with a pipe used for smoking marijuana. The story has been picked up my major news outlets, such as the Drudge Report and the AP.

Phelps did not deny the event, instead he issued a statement saying how he regretted events in Columbia. Wow.

While Phelps is not the first great athlete to party too hard, the fact that the greatest Olympian in history has a scandalous story about his partying in South Carolina hurts South Carolina. South Carolina and the University of South Carolina have a hard enough time trying to show it is a place where people with some sense live and work without the headline of the day being how the greatest Olympian of all time came to Columbia and got high with Carolina students.

One can imagine how people around the country and world will now view our state and its flagship university. South Carolina's tourism motto of "Smiling faces and beautiful places," will be met with sneers about what makes those faces smile.

Sports commentators and news commentators will likely opine away about Phelps in the coming days. Frankly, the entire crackerjack staff of VUI does not care about him. What we do care about is how our state and its flagship university are portrayed. The Phelps story is just another blow to the reputation of South Carolina and nothing short of an embarrassment. What a way for the world to learn about South Carolina.