Sunday, January 31, 2010

Speaking of the U.K., here is Thatcher's last stand

Comedian Robin Williams once said that the the British Parliament was like the United States Congress after a four drink minimum. Fair enough. Here is the old Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, making her last stand against socialism. She spoke hard truths that to this day we all ignore. That said, the original tea party began with the iron fist of the iron lady of the United Kingdom.

Pray for Teddy Trotter and his family

VUI has learned that former SC Representative Teddy Trotter was injured seriously in an accident and is in the Augusta Burn Center.

The entire staff of VUI offers Trotter prayers and best wishes for recovery and offers prayers to his family. Teddy Trotter served South Carolina with distinction during his time in the South Carolina House. He deserves all of our prayers for recovery and his family deserves all of our prayers for comfort during this difficult time that they face. Get well, Mr. Trotter, we are pulling for you.

Shame on the UK for what they are doing to Tony Blair

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is under the gun as no former Prime Minister in the history of the British Empire. Blair recently was hauled before a left wing motivated commission to decide Blair’s conduct leading to the war in Iraq. Blair held his own in the hearing, but do not expect the matter to end there.

The Labor Party is desperate. Prime Minister Gordan Brown’s lackluster performance in the top job has exposed the Labor Party to a big general election defeat. As such, they are looking for a scapegoat, and that scapegoat is Tony Blair. Once the man who brought back the Labor Party from the wilderness, Blair is now the man they seem all too eager to throw under the double deck bus.

Winston Churchill would cringe over such events. It is hard to believe that the United Kingdom would attempt to so malign a former Prime Minister who did what he thought necessary to protect the interests of the United Kingdom.

Such is what the far left in this world does. They claim to champion human rights, but they attack someone like Blair who defended those rights. The far left in Great Britain instead chooses to defend the point of view of a ruthless dictator hellbent on standing against Western ideals of freedom.

What is happening to Tony Blair is a shame and disgrace to the history and honor of the United Kingdom. Indeed, with the current outfit running the United Kingdom, one wonders when the hearings on whether Churchill was a war monger will begin. After all, to the left today, Hitler would probably be a guy who just needed some breathing room. It is sad and ironic those left wingers criticize the efforts of men like Blair against tyrannical forces who would put women, gays, and non believers to death.

Tony Blair should be honored for his courage and determination. He was an old left winger who realized the reality of the battle. He saw the threat. Those who try to destroy him now only work to destroy themselves if they prevail. Bringing Blair down will inspire the haters. No election is worth that to any nation. Shame on the United Kingdom. Sir Winston must be spinning in his grave.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Reformers got rolled by Good Ole Boys on voter ID

Nothing is more sacred in politics than the right to cast a valid and legal vote in an election. Nothing is more sinister in politics than someone who takes away the right of legal and valid voters by casting an illegal vote. Every illegal vote cast is an attack upon the heart of democracy.

For that reason, the Republicans chose to stand up and contend for photo identification to protect the rights of legal South Carolina voters. After all, in nearly every other important endeavor in life, photo identification is needed. Try to get any government benefits or open a bank account without one. Trying buying an airplane ticket without proper identification. For that matter, if you look under 35, try buying a six pack of beer or a pack of cigarettes without proper photo identification.

It seems as common sense that if you have to have photo identification to buy beer, you would need it to cast a vote. That vote you cast was paid for by men and women who killed and died for it. After their sacrifice, it seems unthinkable that people would not have the gumption to have photo identification to vote. And, the left and good ole boys who contend that voters in South Carolina are unable to do so insult those voters. People have the sense to get photo identification.

But, that is politics. Especially on the left, and amongst the good ole boys, activists who cry that they are for voting rights are really after getting votes any way that they can. People who have a religious like zeal for their political agenda have no problem with flouting the spirit of the law if can get them another vote. Suppose an older person is in a nursing home, and unable really to grasp what is going on. Yet, they are registered to vote. To some political advocates, that voter registration card need not go to waste. Indeed, they will make sure someone who works for their organization gets the card and presents it to cast a vote on behalf of the older person in the nursing home. If you doubt that, work an election day. There will be a number of eighty year old voters who show up at polls looking thirty or forty. Perhaps the votes cast can be challenged, but the challenge has no legal teeth.

President Obama even recognizes that people distrust their elected officials and the integrity of our system of governments. Insuring the rights of legal voters via photo identification would be a big step towards repairing that trust.

Yet, we in South Carolina might not ever get that. There was a much talked about compromise in the State Senate on voter identification this past week. However, it was no big win for democracy. The Senate Democrats filibuster, (that is feel a Buster in SC Senate language), resulted in a watered down bill that actually helps those left wing organizations. The bill allows for early voting before an election, which brings back memories of all those shopping mall voters being coaxed in North Carolina back in 2008. That will happen in 2010. Voter identification will happen in 2012, if there is money for it.

Democrats do not have all the blame for this fiasco of legal voters’ rights. Republican state senators Knotts, Leatherman, O’Dell and Rankin gave tacit support to the Democratic filibuster. O’Dell especially comes to mind. He won re-election as a Democrat back in the 1990s amongst controversy from Republican activists at the time. O’Dell also tried to get a convicted drug dealer appointed as a magistrate, but Mark Sanford correctly shot that notion down. (Granted that convict got a recent pardon and is popular with some right wingers in O'Dell's district.) VUI is not shocked to see him on the wrong side of real reform.

Good ole boy politics is okay at some level. There have been some good ole boys that got some things done that mattered. However, when the good ole boys work together to keep us from protecting the rights of legal voters, it is time to say enough. That said the good ole boys rolled the reformers on voter identification.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Stupidity ruins high school hoops in the upstate

VUI is a fan of high school sports. We love high school Friday nights in football and we love the game of high school basketball. That is why we are appalled at the stupidity of some that is ruining the game of high school basketball in the upstate.

Tonight, Seneca will face D.W. Daniel high school on the court and renew a strong rivalry. Normally, VUI would tout the game and encourage folks to go check out some good high school basketball action. However, in this case, winter storms aside, the game will be played closed to the public.

It appears from published reports that after a shooting incident in Seneca, officials from both schools met and huddled with the SC High School League and decided to make the game closed to the public. They cancelled the junior varsity games.

While some criticize the schools, VUI wonders what the heck the community is thinking. High school sports are usually the poor man’s brain candy. High school games are venues in which you can affordably go cheer your team. While college and pro sporting events seem out of reach to families, a night of high school football or basketball action is affordable and local. Robbing the people of such affordable entertainment because of some stupid antics by some elements that probably cannot keep their pants around their waists is downright despicable.

VUI does not care about who has to get their gangsta on the best. All the elements that contributed to this great game being closed to the public are losers in our book. There is something seriously wrong with a community that cannot hold a high school basketball game without worrying about someone getting violent. It is a total breakdown.

After all, sports, especially at the high school level, are supposed to be uniting. People from all walks of life cheer the local team. Even those who come to cheer against the local team are supposed to cheer the sport and the spirit of the event. That is what makes sports so special, it is a time when we unplug from the daily grind and cheer the game.

Now, some ignorant folks with guns want to ruin that. They apparently have for Seneca and Daniel fans. Welcome, rural South Carolina to the crap that seems to define America. It seems we cannot, as a people, even watch a ball game without going gangsta. As the defunct American Idol candidate said, it’s about time those losers pull their damn pants up off the ground.

Municipal elections in SC should be uniform

Throughout South Carolina, municipalities have varying election dates. Some are in even numbered years. Some are in odd numbered years. Some are in the spring. Some are in the fall. Frankly, it is hard for most residents to keep up when to vote for the government that is closest to them.

Municipal elections are the least covered elections in South Carolina, yet they are important. Deciding who is Mayor or who sits on city or town councils is politics at its most basic. It affects daily life up front and personal. Elections for municipal offices determine who runs the local police and fire services, who runs the local water, sewer and garbage collection, who runs local recreation, and who pays what for all of that.

Indeed, the affects of municipal government upon South Carolinians is only matched by the confusion around electing who is to run such governments. The elections for municipal governments are scattered all over the calendar. Further, they are subject to municipal governments changing this or that election date, making the people’s servant’s time in office longer or shorter than what the people contracted with them via election.

South Carolina’s scattered approach to municipal elections is why the people seem less empowered to deal with the government that deals with them most directly. Every two years, South Carolina holds a General Election. Member of the SC House are elected, as are members of the United States House. Media and public attention is drawn to those dates, which also produce in set even numbered years, elections for President, United States Senator, Governor, SC Senate, state constitutional officers, and various school boards. South Carolina recognizes the first Tuesday after the first Monday of every even numbered year as a date for a General Election. As such, the media, and through them, the people focus on those dates every two years in deciding candidates.

If municipal elections are to truly reflect the will of the people and get their full attention, then all municipal elections in South Carolina should be held on an even numbered year General Election date.

Otherwise, the current patchwork of dates rewards those narrow interests who “game” the elections to gain power over their neighbors. Think about it. “Election season,” as defined by the major media most people get their news from, is on the date in November in even years. A municipal election held in an odd year, or in an offhand month, will be ignored. Average folks then are left to walk around wondering how someone like the Mayor of Wellford got elected. Most of her residents probably did not even know about the Election Day that propelled her to office.

Further, moving the municipal elections in South Carolina to the General Election dates would restore credibility to municipal governments. Think again about it. If you are elected Mayor of a town or city on the first Monday after the first full moon of the harvest season after your council extended your term, how much credibility and moral authority do you really have?

Local government is where the political rubber meets the road. That is why VUI says, let the better aspects of Home Rule remain. Let the local guys call the shots. But, we should elect them in a uniform way that reflects the values of America. Every municipal government should be elected at the same time as other officials in the General Election. No municipal government should be allowed to extend the terms of its elected officials. The people need to enter into an informed contract with those that they choose to lead them, and that contract should be open and binding.

Is SC GOP gubernatorial debate a preview of the primary?

The Republican candidates for Governor debated Thursday night in Charleston. The debate got some national attention in that it was moderated by MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski with an occasional assist from a local television figure.

As for as the debate, all seemed to walk out with what they wanted to do going in. The South Carolina Republican Party got some positive press while each of the four candidates seemed to be on message and avoided any major gaffes.

As the primary is five and half months away, this was still a preseason matchup. Yet, all four candidates seemed to have got their game faces on and out for display.

Congressman Gresham Barrett improved his performance greatly since the Newberry debate last year. Instead of dwelling on what a family man he is, Barrett talked about job creation and about cooperating with the legislature the way the late Carroll Campbell did. Barrett has changed his message and as such needs to be taken a bit more seriously than he was a few months ago. Barrett’s performance was refreshing.

Lt. Governor Andre Bauer’s performance gave insight into what his strategy is now. While Bauer emphasized his willingness to work, as he has in all his campaigns, he picked up the mantle of someone who wants to challenge the culture of failure and political correctness. Instead of running from his controversial remarks in Spartanburg last week, the Lt. Governor all but embraced them. That shows he is likely going to present himself as the guy with the guts to call it as he sees it in the primary campaign. Frankly, that makes him a dangerous contender. People are tired of candidates who run from problems, and could embrace the standup guy. Bauer is a proven winner and his strategy could very well work.

Rep. Nikki Haley’s performance was par for the course for her. She is clearly banking on the Sanford wing of the Republican Party backing her. Haley also seems inclined to join those who wish to purify the Republican Party of “RINOs.” Haley was the only candidate who did not want Dillon County to accept federal money to build new schools. She also repeated to the mantra of “conservative, not Republican.” Haley was strong in what she wanted to do, but had the weakest overall performance of the debate. She simply appeared to rehash the Sanford approach in her obvious attempt to secure support from Sanford supporters.

Attorney General McMaster, the frontrunner at this point, also had a par for the course performance. He sounded the general Republican issues and invoked Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment, “Thou shall not speak ill of another Republican,” when pressed by the moderators to choose between Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint. McMaster invoked his professed love of South Carolina and the Republican Party and debated as if it were a General Election debate. McMaster had the appearance of a man who was above it all, and with his numbers, that is the smart thing to do. But, will those numbers hold?

Indeed, from the candidates’ remarks, their campaigns seem to shaping up. Haley and Bauer seem to be aiming for the more libertarian part of the Republican Party and McMaster and Barrett seem to aiming towards the more traditional Republicans who want their candidates conservative, but seasoned and willing to work with others.

With the polling numbers as they are, Barrett’s move is the most surprising. Haley and Bauer seem to be going after the tea party element to secure a place in the runoff against McMaster. Barrett is rolling the dice, going for the frontrunner position himself. If the debate had been held in May instead of January, Barrett’s performance could have been a game changer. VUI thinks Barrett won the debate and his line, “it’s your question, but my answer,” to an interrupting Scarborough was the most memorable line of the night.

That said, the other three candidates got what they wanted to accomplish, and their staffers have plenty of ammunition to spin on their behalf. It was a preseason affair. There is a lot of politics left in this primary race. However, if Thursday’s debate is indicative of the strategies and capabilities of the four candidates, South Carolina Republicans are in for an interesting contest for Governor.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama missed his chance

After a year with Barack Obama as President, predicting what he is going to say is pretty easy. There are going to be clich├ęd calls to populism mixed with barbs at the Bush Administration. Generic terms are used that are hard for anyone to disagree with. Leftists will get a bone thrown to them. Defense and terrorism will be far down on the list of items discussed and there is always the sense of self importance. It is understandable while some members of Congress were caught nodding off by the cameras.

Wednesday night’s State of the Union was par for the course. Obama talked about civility while barbing the Republicans. He eloquently said nothing of importance. The President’s ego was on full display, especially when he chastised the Supreme Court for a decision he disagreed with. ( Frankly, that is something South American Presidents in funny hats do in such a formal setting.) It took an hour for President Obama to get around to the war on terror and national security.

The only thing new was the President’s sense of self pity. He talked about what he faced when he became President. The self pity was even more evident when after calling for civility, he threw barbs at the Republicans. Beneath the charisma, there seemed to be a real sense of bitterness in the President’s barbs. Frankly it has to be hard for Republicans to sit down and work with him after he blames them for all his woes.

It is that apparent self pity that was the most disappointing aspect of the State of the Union. President Obama has a tough job, but he asked for the job. He is the President of the United States. The State of the Union address is national state event and is not the forum for such self pity and political barbs. The address seemed at times to be more the “State of Obama” than the State of the Union, and there lies why the President’s approval numbers have plummeted. A soldier or employee always gripes up at the chain command or management. Leaders never gripe down. When they do, they lose respect. They lose control of the agenda.

Over the past few weeks, President Obama went from being the man who could to the man giving the reasons for why he couldn’t. Obama had a chance Wednesday night to change that. He missed that chance.

What you talkin' about officer Willis?

Forgive VUI. Every now and then we have to write about the strange and the humorous. We just cannot help ourselves, especially when someone like former child star Gary Coleman gets arrested.

According to reports, Coleman was arrested for failing to appear in court in Utah. The man who once played the lovable Arnold as a child on Different Strokes and ran for Governor of California appears angry as can be in the official police photo. Coleman joins the late Dana Plato and Todd Bridges as child stars from "Different Strokes" that somehow went wrong in life. One wonders if a Facts of Life star is soon to be arrested for prostitution or something. It is bad of enough that Valarie Bertinelli from "One Day at a Time" is about to hit 50 and hocks weight loss products. But, for Arnold to be locked up? Wow, we are getting old. What is the world coming to? Come on, he was so popular even Nancy Reagan showed up on his show with him.

Seriously, look at the above photo, and you cannot help but hear Coleman saying, "what you talkin' about officer Willis?"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thank you, General Spears

South Carolina Adjutant General Stan Spears announced recently that he will not seek re-election this year. In January of 2011, General Spears will step down after sixteen years of service as the only elected National Guard Adjutant General in the United States.

While there is considerable debate as to whether the Adjutant General should be elected, no appointee could have served as honorably and as ably as General Spears. Since his taking office in January of 1995, South Carolina has dealt with terrorism, base closures and a complete transformation of the role of its National Guard. Through that relatively tumultuous era, General Spears has led the South Carolina National Guard effectively and served the state of South Carolina with distinction. South Carolina could not ask for a better man to be in command of its National Guard.

Indeed, since 1959, General Spears has answered the call to serve the South Carolina National Guard. As General Spears winds down his time as South Carolina's Adjutant General, South Carolina needs to pause to honor and thank the man.

For our part, VUI thanks you General Spears for a lifetime of service to this state and for a job well done.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Tebows and the freedom of speech

Left groups are freaking out over CBS’s decision to air an ad paid for by the group Focus on the Family featuring former Florida Gator quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother during the Super Bowl. The ad features Tebow’s mom talking about how she chose to have Tebow instead of aborting him when she became ill during her pregnancy. According to various media reports, both CBS and Focus on the Family contend that the ad does not advocate a political position, but instead is a statement about Tebow’s mother’s choice.

That seems simple enough. After all the leftists who argue for abortion rights call themselves “pro choice.” One would think that they would be respectful of a woman who made her choice explaining why she did. That is assuming that the left groups use logic.

The left does not use logic when it comes to such things. They contend they are for freedom of speech, but they act as if that freedom is only valid if it is used to agree with their point of view. They contend to be for a woman’s right to choose, but when a woman talks about choosing to not get an abortion, they call her insensitive and all sorts of names. Indeed, it is typical of most leftists groups to attack anyone who disagrees with their point of view as “bigoted,” “homophobic,” or the like. After the name calling, the left tries to silence any contrary point of view with threats of destroying their opponents businesses and reputations.

Thus, the left wingers’ idea of freedom is pretty clear. You have the freedom to agree with them. They have the freedom to ruin your life and silence you if you do not agree with the left agenda.

If you doubt that, just look at the shrill remarks and name calling from groups like the Women’s Media Center and the National Organization of Women over the Tebow ad. It is an ad no one outside the production people and CBS has seen. Yet, because it is paid for by a group that is reviled, for gulp, talking about families, threats and melodramatically worded press releases are produced.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue of abortion, the efforts by fringe groups to silence the voice of a woman who explains her choice should be appalling to anyone with a sense of what freedom of speech is all about. You might think that the people on the other side of an issue are stupid and crazy. You could be right in your assessment. But, when you act to silence someone through melodrama and economic threats, eventually someone will appear on the scene that will do the same to you. That is the beauty of the freedom of speech. When all are allowed to buy their time and speak their minds, the people choose in the marketplace of ideas. Those who attempt to silence others in that marketplace of ideas are typically bankrupt of ideas themselves.

Indeed, the American ideal of open and honest debate of issues, with respect for those who disagree with us, is slipping away. Be it groups on the right or left, or factions in a county government, too often people turn to litigation, name calling, and harassment to silence voices of opposition. Even when such people couch themselves in American sounding names or claim to champion the people, their actions are as un- American as the long list of despots whose desire to silence opposition typically ended upon the trash heap of history.

VUI Video of the week: tribute to Charlie Daniels

Charlie Daniels is an American original and an icon of Southern Rock music. Over the past few years, Daniels has been an outspoken conservative without apology. Last week, Daniels suffered a stroke. VUI wishes Daniels a speedy recovery and offers this video of him performing our favorite song by him as a tribute.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bauer’s awkward remarks should not silence discussion about the culture of failure.

Lt. Governor Andre Bauer is a risk taker. VUI admires that about him. Bauer is known for speeding and airplanes, but he is also known for running for offices that people told him he was too young for and for taking on initiatives, such as taking the Office of Aging on as a Lt. Governor’s duty, that people said were beyond him. Along the way, Bauer has defeated seasoned political veterans and political heirs at the polls and survived.

So, it was no surprise that Lt. Governor Bauer took on entitlements recently. Bauer is the little guy who goes and picks a fight with the biggest guy in the room. What was a surprise was how Bauer flubbed it up. Bauer’s poor choice of analogy and his mentioning of the school lunch program were damaging to his chances to be elected Governor, even with Republicans. It also let the bigger debate about entitlements slip away.

To be frank, there is a culture of failure in South Carolina. It drags school performance and the state’s economy down. There are pockets of that culture of failure in which success is ridiculed and stupidity and laziness are championed. No amount of money and no government program, however cleverly designed, will work if people are proud to fail.

Any candidate of either party aspiring to be Governor of South Carolina should address that culture of failure. Bauer was right to address it, but so wrong in how he did it.

Bauer lost the high ground when he stated that his grandmother, who he claimed was not very educated, for whatever reason, told him to “quit feeding stray animals because they breed,” as a analogy in his remarks about people receiving public assistance. The vast majority of South Carolinians are not comfortable with comparing the family down the street on welfare with the neighborhood stray cat. It was a politically dumb analogy to offer.

Also, Bauer’s suggestion that parents be required to attend PTA or parent teacher conferences if their children receive free or reduced lunch was politically tone deaf. Fair or not, Bauer’s suggestion made him seem callous to kids who cannot control their parents behavior and ignorant of the fact that a good many parents work nights when such meetings happen. Think about it. If a single mom is struggling to make ends meet, should we make her take a night off work, and lose her pay for the night, to go to a PTA meeting so her kid can get a free or reduced lunch?

There is another way to look at such. Suppose a child rides the bus to and from school. From seven in the morning to four in the afternoon, the state has “custody” of that child. Should the state deny that student something to eat during the day because that student’s parent’s boss would not let them off to attend a PTA meeting?

Lt. Governor Bauer’s idea about making people who accept public assistance take drug tests makes sense. The taxpayers have no business funding someone’s drug habit. However, VUI would take additional steps. All government officials and contractors should be required to have random drug tests as well. If we are not going to pay for some welfare mom to get pot, we do not need to pay some public official to do similar drugs. (Exceptions would have to be made for public officials in regards to alcohol and certain BBQ sauce ingredients, in order to make sure that we actually have enough people to serve.)

Lt. Governor Bauer’s remarks were disappointing. They did not reflect his years of service and they probably hurt his candidacy more than helped it. More importantly, his awkward remarks likely took discussion of the culture of failure in this state off the political table. That is unfortunate. South Carolina needs to discuss the culture of failure in a rational and respectful manner. Far too many of our people are lost to it for it to be ignored again this election cycle. We should worry about that culture of failure because those trapped in it are not stray animals, but they are our fellow human beings.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What a difference a year makes

About a year ago, a candidate considering running for statewide office as a Democrat approached one of the staff of VUI. That potential candidate was excited about the election of Barack Obama and went on about how Obama’s election “changed things.” A year ago, the thought of a Democrat running in South Carolina with the help of President Obama was palatable. Today, that candidate is not running and Democrats in South Carolina are scrambling to redefine themselves.

Instead of 2010 being a banner year for Democrats in South Carolina, it is starting to look like 1994. A Democrat is in the White House, but that President pushed too hard, too fast, in all the wrong ways, and faces below 50 percent approval nationally. While President Obama does not suffer the downright hate that Bill Clinton faced in South Carolina in 1994, the Obama star has faded. South Carolina Democrats are back to distancing themselves from the national party.

“I am a South Carolina Democrat,” more than one Democratic candidate for state office can be quoted as saying. Rep. Ott’s response to Governor Sanford’s State of the State seemed to set the tone. Ott talked about Republicans spending too much money and not being conservative with taxpayer dollars. It was like Ott was trying to out Republican them.

Other Democrats want to dwell on the Sanford saga instead of embracing the Obama Administration. Mark Sanford and his eccentricities are the issue to those Democrats, not President Obama. Expect Democrats to take what is called the “Ben Jones” approach. Ben Jones, who starred as “Cooter” in the Dukes of Hazzard television show, won two terms in Congress from Georgia as a Democrat. Jones coined the Southern Democrat approach by running campaigns that embraced “we in the South like our guns, like to get our kids educated and like to take care of mama and them.”

Rep. Ott’s response to Governor Sanford’s State of the State sounded a lot more like ole Cooter then it did President Obama. The question Democratic candidates in South Carolina face is will that approach work in 2010? There is a lot of angst out there against both political parties, and the ongoing battle between so called Republican “purists” and those that they dub “RINOs” could take its toll. Despite that fact, when Democratic candidates face the voters in November, they bring President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid with them. As such, South Carolina Democratic candidates are likely to spend as much time trying to get the national Democratic albatross off their necks as they do running against their Republican opponents. What a difference a year makes.

No cash, no limits, full disclosure

Much is being made ado about the recent United States Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The court’s ruling struck down much of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 a.k.a. BCRA.

BCRA prohibited corporations, unions and non profits from paying for campaign ads or literature within 60 days of a federal election meant to advocate or be against a candidate. In the past two election cycles, groups like ACORN and Move On have found clever ways to get around the law.

Indeed, it was a movie about Hillary Clinton that was denied to be aired by the Federal Election Commission that caused Citizens United to sue.

The court found that the First Amendment right to free speech is paramount. Writing for a 5-4 split court, Justice Kennedy opined, that the BCRA when it came to free speech, was “an outright ban, backed by criminal sanctions.” Kennedy went on to list various groups on both sides of the political issues of the day that were harmed by such.

Kennedy’s words commit the Supreme Court to free speech when it comes to money spent in the political arena. VUI will not bore you with a detailed treatise of the effects of the decision, but it appears that the court might be open to accepting a challenge against all campaign donation limits at some point, if the case is presented correctly.

Frankly, such a stance is welcomed by VUI. For far too many years, politicians have created complicated campaign finance laws with little enforcement teeth to obfuscate who is giving what amount to whom, all in the name of “reform.”

While we know it will not happen anytime soon, VUI contends for no limits on contributions, no undocumented cash donations, and full disclosure of every contributor at all levels. If an individual or entity wants to give a million dollars to a candidate, party or political group, fine, as long as such a donation is fully disclosed. For those who argue that is against free speech, keep in mind that there is no anonymity at a town hall meeting or during the public comments session of a public body. Further, while the people do not have the right to limit the amount money that an individual or group can donate to candidate, the people do have a right to know who is financing a candidate who seeks to lead them. If one truly believes in freedom, one has to believe that the people, when given the information, can judge for themselves who has their interests at heart.

That said, the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United is an immediate game changer. It will change how Congressional campaigns are dealt with in 2010. Democrats are especially ticked about it, despite the fact that labor unions are given a free hand again. The reason for that is Democrats in 2006 and 2008 learned how to game the campaign finance structure that was in place much better than their Republican counterparts. Now, their gamesmanship will not matter. That is why all sorts of hyperbole can be expected from Democrats in regard to the decision. It is also why Republicans will cheer it.

As for VUI, we see the decision in Citizens United as a step toward freedom and simplicity in campaign finance law that goes another step towards rewarding the open over the clever. Big money will always influence elections. We have a choice, let them openly do it so it can be seen, and the people can judge such, or keep the complicated so called "reforms" that make the big money picture murky.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Top 9 things you likely will not hear Governor Sanford say in his State of the State Address

9) For the rest of my term, no business that employs a relative of any member of my cabinet shall be allowed to do business with the state.

8) You guys know I was “this close” to resigning, don’t you?

7) I endorse my beloved Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer for Governor.

6) You members of the General Assembly are all great public servants. Jakie, BBQ is on me.

5) There is more to solving the education problem then private school tuition tax credits.

4) You guys got me. I am the best example of why Governors in South Carolina ought to remain relatively weak.

3) In my last year if you do not hear from me for a week or so, don’t worry, I will be okay.

2) Get over, brothers and sisters, I am still here, styling and profiling. Learn to live with it. To be the man, you got to beat the man, and I am telling you after beating your impeachment, I am the man. Learn to live with it. You gonna have to override my vetoes yet one more time. Woooooooh.

1) Maria, stand up and be recognized.

Expect Brown to have a short honeymoon

Congratulations to Chris Brown for making history and becoming the first Republican to be elected to the United States Senate from Massachusetts since 1972. Brown's victory was historical and is a wakeup call to the President of the United States and the Democrats on Capitol Hill.

However, the honeymoon for Brown appears to be a short one. Some conservative bloggers are already dubbing Brown a "RINO" before Brown's career as a US Senator even starts. Never mind that putting aside the "RINO" bull manure stuff was part of bringing people together to elect Brown.

Democrats are also kicking their games in into a higher gear. Not only will they look at Brown and his family more closely, they will spend time and resources trying to convince people that Brown's victory was a fluke because the Democratic nominee was inept. Look for words like "clever" to be used to describe Brown's win. Democrats will not concede health care or any other issue. They will instead try to portray Brown as being clever enough to sneak a victory while the Democratic nominee was too inept to see what was going on. Republicans who think that the victory will lead to Democratic concessions on President Obama's agenda are too optimistic. From now until November, when the rest of the Congressional elections happen, Obama and the Democrats will be going full throttled.

The third reason the honeymoon for Brown will be short lived is the incredible expectations set upon Brown. Already pundits in major media outlets are pushing the idea of Brown running for President in offhanded remarks. Do not be surprised if some Democratic operatives quietly push such talk. Such talk will bring more scrutiny to Brown from the start and rev up the "RINO" talk about him from within the Republican Party. Make no mistake about it, on the national level, there is nothing more the Democrats want then for so called Republican "purists" to have a battle with so called "RINOs."

Frankly put, a Republican Party fighting inside itself is about the only chance it seems Democrats have to win in the Fall of 2010. If the Republicans unite behind their nominees in Congressional races and let those nominees run the races that they must in swing states, the Democrats will see deep losses in November. Massachusetts showed us that if Republicans unite and a candidate embraces the the more populist parts of the "Tea Party" movement, while being allowed to address local issues without being attacked for being a "RINO," the Republican candidate wins.

That said, do not be shocked if the Democratic leadership in the United States Senate does not talk about "process" and "proper documentation" before they officially seat Brown. Democratic leaders in the United States Senate and Democratic state officials in Massachusetts could work together to delay the seating of Brown for about three weeks, giving Congress time to pass the health insurance company stimulus plan backed by the Obama Administration and big lobbyists. A lot of money is on the line. Big money has been spent to get that money. Do no be shocked if the voters are thwarted as much as they can be.

Still, thank you Massachusetts for reminding us that the people, not one party or the other, controls seats in the in the United States Senate.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr.'s lesson to us all

Most people know about Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech in Washington. They know about his assassination. However, what is not talked about is how King started as a freedom fighter.

The King story started with Rosa Parks. Ms. Parks was a woman who was tired from working and just fed up one day. On December 1st, 1955 Ms. Parks had enough and refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery Alabama to a white passenger. That led to her arrest and the rise of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a minister with a church to run. He had followed in his father’s footsteps. One can imagine that Martin Luther King, Jr. had enough to do in being a husband, a father and a minister to his flock. He did not seek to rise to leadership. Dr. King was simply running his church and minding his own business.

Instead, upon the arrest of Parks, African American leaders in the Montgomery area, such as M.L. Nixon, looked to someone who had not been influenced by the local white supremacy of the day to lead their Montgomery Improvement Association. Such leaders did not want someone who was afraid or someone who had cut a previous deal. Thus, the young minister Martin Luther King, Jr. was perfect to be named head of “MIA.”

As head of the Montgomery Improvement Association, King led a successful boycott. African Americans were the biggest consumers of the bus services offered by the Montgomery Transit Authority. As such, the African American boycott of the Montgomery buses hit the finances of the white supremacists that ran the buses hard. King’s boycott had them on their financial knees.

On their knees, the racists fought back. King’s idea of using car pools and taxi cabs was hit hard. Town ordinances were passed to take the license of any cab driver who charged less than the bus fare for a ride. King himself was arrested for trying to hamper the bus service.

It was that arrest of King that made national headlines. King, with peace and dignity, complied with the arrest and paid the $500 fine proudly. The racists who had underestimated King then began the descent down the slope to their demise. For the price of a simple arrest and a $500 fine, Martin Luther King, Jr. exposed the injustice that was life for an African American. From that point forward, the Montgomery Transit Authority had to rethink how it did business. Martin Luther King, Jr. would rise to iconic status, and his method of peacefully fighting for justice would become so ingrained in American culture that a national holiday would be created in King’s honor.

The holiday for King is fitting. King was a hero to the cause of freedom and justice. However, we should also remember how it started. King’s rise started with a woman fed up who was too tired to get up and give up her seat. King’s status was exalted by men who did not want to have the burden of leadership. They chose the young preacher instead.

It is a lesson for us all. Dr King taught us that if we commit ourselves to the right things, we can rise up to do what is right when our time comes. It matters not how we got to the point. Our own plan for our lives does not matter. If we believe in the right, and believe we must do what is right, when the time comes to stand up, we must do it. And, as Dr. King taught us, when we answer that call to do what is right, the difference we make for people can be tremendous.

If you think you cannot do what is right or make a difference, remember that young preacher called to lead in difficult circumstances. Even those who professed to support him in 1955 offered him up as the one to be attacked. Yet that young preacher did what he saw right and prevailed to a level that launched his legacy to perpetuity and forever changed America. Perhaps you cannot change America, but the legacy of Dr. King and his humble start should inspire you to at least change the world around you, one peaceful act for justice at a time.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why not learn from the best?

Education is a hot topic in South Carolina. The alleged failure of South Carolina’s public schools sparks interest on the right, via tuition tax credits, and the left, via outright increased public education spending, to grow government and do something about the education of our children.

No one wants to argue against making life better for our children by providing them with a better education. The problem is the Howard Rich crowd that controls the “choice” movement and the liberals in the education establishment both seem to contend for a bigger government role without promising real results. Both factions seem eager to spend our money on their pet ideas, without any proof that those ideas will actually work.

Thus, VUI proposes the unpopular and the politically unthinkable. Why not take a look at the states, such as New Hampshire, Vermont, North Dakota and Virginia that excel at the test measures for education and see how we can get it right? Sports coaches and businessmen look to those who innovate and find a way to succeed. Why can’t educators do the same?

Unfortunately, VUI can answer its own question. In the states that have the most education success, the so called “choice” crowd and the liberal education establishment do not get their way. Education is not an issue to be kicked around every election year. Those who succeed take it seriously and move to remove the bull manure from the process. They actually have the notion that creating smarter kids is good for their state, and politics is left out of it.

That is not South Carolina. The so called “choice” crowd will take the money from the wealthy New Yorker to fight to make sure every wealthy parent gets a subsidy to send his child to private school. The establishment’s educrats will ask for more public money and tell us innovation is just too hard. The two sides work in tandem to make sure South Carolina’s children are robbed of the chance to be their best.

We ought to be outraged. But, chances are we will not be. Instead most of us will pick one side or another, and feed into the failure. We pause at facing the hard truth that we can be better if only we look beyond the politics of the day, and act as a business person, or even a football coach would. Let’s look beyond the dominant political figures and financiers of the day and find a way to find out what works and go with it.

Think about it. Education is as important to your children as their financial future. Would you choose between two bankrupt ideas for their financial future, or would you seek out to learn how those who made some money got it done? Let’s be clear. The bankrupt ideas of the so called school choice movement will not work for most South Carolina children, nor will the status quo embraced by the educrats. We have to look beyond those political forces to find a better way. Such takes the courage to think. I hope we have it. For if we do not, no amount of political money spent will ever make a real difference.

Rex is in trouble

Jim Rex’s bid to become Governor is in trouble. Do not believe the spin coming from his campaign that a poor fundraising quarter and the lowest cash on hand among the major Democratic candidates is okay. There is something amiss in the Rex campaign. Several factors seemed to be ignored by Rex and his people.

First, running for a lower tier statewide office is nothing like running for a top tier statewide race. Democrat Inez Tennebaum and Republican Bob Peeler both appeared politically invincible at the lower tier in statewide offices. Yet, both their stars faded when they took on the higher lights of the top of the statewide ballot.

Tennenbaum and Peeler are not alone. Mike Daniel looked invincible as Lt. Governor until Carroll Campbell handed him his hat in 1986 in their battle for the Governor’s chair. Nick Theodore and his familiar “hey buddy” greeting to every voter was thought invincible until a former state representative named David Beasley beat him in 1994 for the Governor’s chair.

Frankly put, success at the statewide level in lower tier constitutional offices does not guarantee success for a higher tier job such as Governor. Such campaigns are different. It comes down to the classic political ideals of a ground war and air war.

In a lower tier office, like Superintendent of Education, a good ground war can carry the day. Politically, a good ground war is organization, putting up signs, and turning out your voters to actually vote down ballot. If you look at statewide ballots, thousands of South Carolinians leave the down ballot statewide races blank on their ballots or vote for the name that they can think of. That is where having a sign in the right place or having a neighbor urge his fellow neighbors makes a difference. Even letters to the editor to the local papers matter heavily. Internet posts matter. Just being known to the voters makes a difference.

In higher tier races, winning the ground war might help a bit, but the real battle is still in the air war. The air war is the television and internet ads that become readily available to the people who are paying more attention. That takes money. It takes money to buy ad time and produce ads that get attention during the time that is paid for. A candidate for Governor can show up at every hot dog supper in the state, but if he does not have the money to get his message out professionally over the airwaves, chances are he is done. The majority of voters who do not attend hot dog suppers and political meetings pay attention to higher tier races through the major media. The average voter who feels compelled to go and vote for someone for Governor is likely to be more influenced by the television ad he sees during the evening news than any contact he had with the candidate.

That is why Rex and his campaign seem in trouble. They are relatively broke. They do not see that running for a lower tier statewide office is nothing like running for Governor. Rex and his people seem content to run a ground war in an air war campaign. Perhaps Rex’s handlers have found that is all they can do. If so, fair enough. Whatever the reason, Jim Rex’s campaign for Governor of South Carolina seems to be over before it got started. Rex seems to be relegated now to the role of spoiler only. Again, if that is the role Rex wants, fair enough. However, if Rex and his people actually think he will be elected Governor, they are facing a June reality check.

History on the line in Massachusetts

The President of the United States is going to Massachusetts this weekend to campaign for Democratic US Senate nominee Martha Coakley. Former President Bill Clinton has already campaigned for Coakley, as have a laundry list of other Democratic Party heavyweights. The problem is that Republican Scott Brown has surged ahead in the polls in the special election to fill what Democrats call “Ted Kennedy’s senate seat.”

The fact that the race is even competitive is historic. A Republican has not won election to the United States Senate in Massachusetts since Edward Brooke won in 1972. A Republican has not served in the United States Senate from Massachusetts since Brooke’s retirement in January of 1979. To put it in perspective, the last time a Republican was elected to the United States Senate from Massachusetts:
Richard Nixon was the President of the United States and had soaring popularity. (Watergate was a back page break-in story.)

President Obama was eleven years old.

The wealthy and technologically savvy were embracing cutting edge electronics such as the hand held calculator and the video game “Pong.”

The internet was still a project handled by the military and academics.

Wall Street was thrilled as the DOW broke 1,000.

Rotary dial telephones and over the air television reception were the norm in the vast majority of American homes.

Harry Truman was still alive.

The list can and does go on, but the above facts help make the point. What is happening in Massachusetts is historical. Even if Brown winds up losing, the fact that the election was this close reflects badly upon the President and the Democrats.

That is why the President is “doubling down” in Massachusetts this weekend. He really has no choice. If Coakley loses, it will thwart the President on health care reform. The closeness of the contest already has Congressional Democrats looking worried about November. If the President goes to Massachusetts and Coakley defeats Brown, then the President will be able to point to his influence as a reason for nervous Democrats to stick with him. If Brown wins, the President will at least be able to say he is loyal to those loyal to him. Simply put, there is no other way to the President can play the situation.

However, the President is facing taking his credibility into an increasingly dirty race. As Attorney General, Coakley was well respected going into the election. However, the stress of the campaign has gotten to her and other Democrats. Coakley recently remarked on a radio show that devout Catholics “probably shouldn’t work in emergency rooms,” due to their religious beliefs. Senator Charles Schumer of New York added to the nastiness when he called Scott Brown a “tea bagger,” apparently referring to someone who practices a particular sex act that for Brown would be a homosexual sex act. That remark came on the heels of left news outlets republishing pictures from Brown’s youth when he was a male model. (The unspoken political goal of such is that if some conservatives get the notion that Brown seems gay, those conservatives stay home instead of go vote.)

Such candidate meltdowns and surrogate attacks are typically a sign of a campaign in trouble. Ironically, Martha Coakley’s campaign looks more like Elizabeth Dole’s 2008 Senate loss in North Carolina then it does Barack Obama’s energetic campaigns. Indeed, it seems Brown has the energy and the “Big Mo” as President Bush the Elder once put it.

On Tuesday night, America and Massachusetts will know who won what has become a national political fight. One thing is certain, though. If the Republicans can wage a historically competitive campaign in a state like Massachusetts, the left’s contention that the Republican Party was dead 14 months ago was wrong. Indeed, if Brown wins, not only will he give the Republicans the power of the filibuster, he will strike fear into the hearts of Congressional Democrats who have to face the voters in November. Fourteen months ago, such a thing was unimaginable to the left and the mainstream media.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haitian Horror

Unless you are completely unplugged from current events, you know of the terrible earthquake that the people of Haiti suffered recently. The devastation is unimaginable. Hundreds of thousands of human beings are dead and injured. The following video from the United States Coast Guard flyover gives one an idea about how buildings and lives were damaged and destroyed.

Such events test those of us with even the strongest sense of faith. There seems to be nothing that we can do. But, we can do something. Even if we have only a little to give, organizations need every penny that they can get to bring relief and some sense of humanity to the people of Haiti.

VUI encourages you to take a moment and pray for Haiti, and if you have a few dollars to spare go to the Redcross website for Haiti and your donation, however small, can and will make a difference.

You can donate to the American Redcross's relief efforts at:

May God be with the people of Haiti and with all of those who try to assist them.

Top 9 signs the SC General Assembly is back in session

9) All the parking places along Assembly Street are filled with SUVs sporting political bumper stickers. Especially amusing are the SUVs with stickers saying “green” things like “Think globally and act locally.”

8) Some bars in the Vista area of Columbia have to close early because they run out of whiskey and beer about two hours after the General Assembly is dismissed for the day.

7) Columbia area condom sells jump 500 percent.

6) Strange people yell at you while you are stuck in traffic on Gervais Street. As you move on in traffic, you ask yourself who is Nikki Haley?

5) Downtown Columbia traffic is further complicated by state government employees actually showing up to work.

4) Some strange man, holding a baby doll on a stick, informs you that Bobby Harrell is not really pro-life.

3) Columbia Police are called in to break up a fight between gay rights activists and confederate flag supporters. The only arrest in the matter is for indecent exposure.

2) Your regular seat at Uncle Louie’s in the Vista is filled with a rotund state senator working on his third bbq sandwich and cussing Mark Sanford.

1) Columbia is put under an air quality alert due to the high amount of methane gas found around downtown.

SC's "Flounder" considering a run for Congress

VUI noted earlier that nearly everyone in politics with a pulse was considering running for the First Congressional Seat along the coast. To be frank, our editor, Brian McCarty, was checking out rentals along the Grand Strand.

But, McCarty and VUI can not hold a partying candle to SC Rep. Thad Viers, who is considering running for the seat. You remember the hard partying Viers as the guy who called up and threatened his ex wife's boyfriend. A fellow House member worked with Viers as legal counsel to get the charges dealt with.

Well, with another shot or two of courage, Mr. Viers is now considering a run for the United States Congress.

The potential of a Viers candidacy has the Rich crowd of New York and Animal House fans both excited. Howard Rich and his well financed cronies are salivating at the idea of having a Congressman from South Carolina on their payroll. Animal House fans are excited that "Flounder" might find a job that gives him the proper respect.

As one VUI friend put it, "Only on the beach can Flounder be taken seriously."

Thad "Flounder" Viers is indeed being taken seriously. Supporters and foes alike think that one of the most infamous members of the Animal House known as the South Carolina House could end up a real candidate for the United States Congress.

Normally, we would point out that being "fat,drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life," but VUI recognizes we are dealing with Congress. What would make others cringe in the business world just might be what gets Viers elected to Congress.

However you look at it, South Carolina's very own "Flounder" is making news.

VUI Video of the Week: The Senate on Health Care

The issue in this video is housing, but it might as well be health care, as the United States Senate stands to fine poor people for not being able to afford to buy health insurance from the big insurance companies that fund the campaigns of the members of Congress. If you ever doubted what your Senate thought of you, the average person, well, wonder no more. Here are parody's Democrats in action.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The political irrelevancy of Governor Mark Sanford and the cost to us all

The media is paying attention to the upcoming divorce of Governor Mark Sanford and the soon to be released book by Sanford's soon to be ex-wife, Jenny. While the tabloid shows, the media and some of the public might be concerned with Sanford saga, the leaders of the South Carolina General Assembly are not.

The South Carolina House will address a censure of Governor Sanford today. Speaker Bobby Harrell has made clear that that today will be the only day the House deals with Governor Sanford's saga. State Senate President Pro Tempore Glen McConnell does not even promise a day.

Frankly, why should Harrell and McConnell worry about Governor Sanford? They are the two most politically powerful men in South Carolina. Sanford is an afterthought, just another constitutional officer who is to be patted on the head and sent on his way.

Before Governor Sanford went A.W.O.L. last June, he already had hundreds of his vetoes overridden by the General Assembly. Further, the Governor and his staff had an antagonistic relationship with leaders in the General Assembly from day one. That act had already wore thin before the scandal.

Now, further weakened by scandal, Governor Mark Sanford has less influence over what the General Assembly will do than Queen Elizabeth has over the Canadian Parliament. Indeed, the actions of Mark Sanford have historically weakened the status of the office of Governor of South Carolina.

South Carolina has endured such Governors before. In 1874, in the midst of Reconstruction, Daniel Chamberlain was elected Governor. Chamberlain would face fraud charges later in his life. Further, Chamberlain would claim re-election in 1876, but abandoned the office and the state in April of 1877, when federal troops left South Carolina. The man Chamberlain claimed to have defeated in 1876, Wade Hampton, took over as Governor. Chamberlain represented all that was wrong with Reconstruction, and South Carolinians were left weary of some outsider coming in and having power as Governor.

In 1910, South Carolina elected Newberry Mayor Coleman Blease Governor. Blease was re-elected in 1912. However, Blease's eccentric ways would forever weaken the Governor's office. As Governor, Blease pardoned over 1700 prisoners, including convicted murderers. That led to the Governor being stripped of his pardon powers. Blease's eccentricties did not end there. Blease was so upset that Richard Manning, III had been elected to replace him that Blease resigned as Governor five days before the end of his term so that he would not have to participate in the inauguration of Manning.

In arguing for a more powerful Governor, Governor Sanford has cited race and noted how antiquated the South Carolina Executive Department is. Sanford has a marked ignorance of South Carolina history. South Carolina has a weak executive because legislative leaders wanted the influence of a Governor set up by outsiders and the influence of a Governor who was a bit nuts to be limited.

Ironically, Mark Sanford made the case for keeping the Governor's office officially weak and destroyed the bully pulpit influence of the office that had been established under Governors such as Byrnes, Thurmond, Hollings, McNair, Edwards, Riley and Campbell. Indeed, Mark Sanford, funded by a lot of people outside South Carolina, acted eccentric as Governor.

Thus, Mark Sanford reinforced the historical reasons why South Carolina has a weak Governor and set up the situation for this year's General Assembly. While Governor Sanford has much more relative power than the average citizen, to the members of the General Assembly, he is a side note, an asterisk, something not to waste time on. Ignoring the Sanford saga is the biggest insult of all that the General Assembly can give to Mark Sanford and to the office of Governor of South Carolina.

However, the situation is not a good one. South Carolinians elect their Governors to lead the state, not be ignored by the General Assembly. The selfish political interests of the Governor and the leadership of the General Assembly have set this state back a generation in having some sort of balance of power in Columbia. Ironically, that appears to be Mark Sanford's legacy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Democrats Defense of Reid only makes matters worse

The Democratic Party has staked a claim to the high ground in racial relations and politics for a generation now. While there are sincere Democrats who have worked hard to better racial relations in the United States and South Carolina, the Democrats' defense of United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just compounds the insult issued by Reid.

As widely reported, Reid, in an interview for the book "Game Change" was quoted as saying that President Obama was "light skinned" and did not have a "Negro dialect."

Let those words sink in. If a Republican Senator, in the leadership or not, used the word "Negro" in a interview or public remarks, there would a be political storm around that Republican. Frankly, it should be. What is disturbing is the absence of a political storm around Reid.

Indeed, the DNC Chairman, a former white Governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, had this to say in defense of Reid, " I think if you look at the reports as I have, it was all in the context of saying positive things about (then) Senator Obama..."

Wow. Let those remarks sink in. To the DNC Chairman, noting that an African American is "light skinned" and has no "Negro dialect" is trying to say something positive about that African American candidate? Are we to assume that a darker skinned African American who spoke with the accent that a good portion of African Americans, and most Southerners in general have for that matter, ran for office that he would be a lesser candidate because he was darker skinned?

Of course Democrats will cry to the heavens that is not what Reid or Kaine meant. However, their words are there, and if uttered by any Republican nothing short of resignation would be acceptable. One can not just get around words like "light skinned" and "Negro" from a United States Senator in this day and age.

Yet, the Democratic leadership is trying to do just that. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a wealthy white woman from California, urged that the matter "should be closed" because Reid apologized to the President and to the "Black leadership."

At least Feinstein did not call African American leaders the "Negro leadership." Still, Feinstein's remarks had the ring of "he has apologized to those people, why do you care?"

That seems to sum up the Democratic Party leadership. Here's why we can't just move on.

First, the use of the antiquated racial term "negro" is just not acceptable in today's world. To use that term to describe someones dialect is also unacceptable. Further, to suggest that noting someones "light skin" is saying something positive about them as they seek a job is outrageous. Both Reid and Kaine would be fired by most businesses for their remarks, as they should be. The American people should demand no less of their political leaders.

Also, there is the insult to the President of the United States. While VUI disagrees with most of the President's policies and even has some fun at his expense, because, after all, he is the most powerful man on the planet, VUI drew the line with rightwingers who prayed for the President's demise. President Obama is the President of the United States, which includes all of us. So, VUI feels pretty comfortable calling the insult Reid gave Obama. Instead of dwelling on his racial features, why not offer that the President had a well organized campaign or something like that? After all, Senator John McCain's skin was much lighter than the President's and he lost the election in a landslide.

But, in the world of liberal politics, the racist remarks of their leaders are dismissed as misstatements. Indeed, VUI wonders how many liberal bloggers out there will actually hold Reid and Kaine accountable for their remarks. Indeed, are liberals practicing the "soft racism" that they say dominates American life?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The buzz around Game Change

On Monday, the book Game Change by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann will be released to the public. However, this weekend’s news cycles on the web, in print on the air have been full of the juicy details about the 2008 Presidential campaign that the book promises to give the reader.

From the published reports about the book, we learn the following.

John Edwards was all but an egomaniac who ran off longtime friends and advisers who dared to question his relationship with Rielle Hunter. Those of us who have been involved in politics a longtime have seen such before. Whatever the level, there is always a politician whose ego is his demise and who then is so angry that he lashes out anyway he can even against those who tried to help him. Elizabeth Edwards appears as the wife in denial, who herself could be bitter and vindictive. If the published reports are true, Thank God those two are not in the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid comes across as the jerk he seems to be. Published reports have the book depicting him calling President Obama a “light skinned” African American who had no “Negro dialect.” Reid has issued a public apology for his choice of words already. However, the damage is done, and chances are so is Reid.

The Clintons are hit hard as well. Again, according to published reports, Hillary Clinton wanted allegations of President Obama’s drug use in his youth pushed. President Clinton supposedly offended the late Senator Ted Kennedy by suggested to Kennedy “that a few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee,” in reference to President Obama.

The McCain-Palin ticket was not spared from the book, according the published reports. They suggest that the book depicts McCain aides worried about Cindy McCain having a boyfriend and about how dumb and lazy in preparation Sarah Palin was. Palin has acted already to deny the depiction of her in the book.

The details go on and on. The buzz around the book will not quiet down anytime soon, which should help its authors with their sales. However, the fact that such a book can even be written and sources cited shows a shift in American political culture. There was a time in which aides were tight lipped about their counsel and worries with candidates, even when candidates appeared to do those aides wrong. Fifteen or twenty years ago, it was sort of a code among political staffers. That code no longer exists into today’s politics. Right or wrong, and it is debatable, if a politician today mistreats a friend or staffer, chances are they will read about it all in a book someday or on a blog or both. It is a factor that politicians and even ex-politicians now have to consider before they mistreat friends of staffers. Pulling that political trigger against an old boss is also something the politico must weigh. It had better pay off. Because, chances are, one will never work in politics again if he or she writes tell all stuff about a former politician boss.

The book Game Change will be an interesting read. The fallout from it will be even more interesting.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Grand Strand and how laws have to be enforced now

In 2009, both the Mayor and Police Chief of Atlantic Beach were arrested for DUI. The Atlantic Beach Mayor's arrest was the last in a series of arrests and run ins with the law. Those arrests, along with other political controversies, prompted some to call for Atlantic Beach to be a town no more. Those calls prompted calls of racism as Atlantic Beach is a historically African American vacation venue.

Well, perhaps it is time to put aside that sort of talk and time to test the drinking water down along the Grand Strand. The city of Surfside Beach now has its own problems with public officials and the law. According to published reports, on the night of January 7th, Surfside Beach Mayor Allen Deaton was arrested for DUI by Surfside Beach police. That arrest comes eight days after the arrest of Surfside Beach Public Works Director Ty Taylor for having an open container of beer in a town vehicle. So far, there have been no demands for Surfside Beach to be have its town charter revoked.

There are two observations to note what is going on in local government along the Grand Strand. First, the arrests along the Grand Strand are evidence of why local elections matter and why people should pay attention to who they are electing and what they do while in office.

The second observation is perhaps the more important. Things are no longer like they used to be. Law enforcement and other officials now act without mercy or consideration of who who is who. Some applaud that. Such is certainly better than the good ole boy system of years ago when those "in the loop" could get away with anything and those of out of it would be arrested for jaywalking or looking at someones wife.

Think about how different things are now. Years ago, had a small town mayor been stopped and found drunk, chances are the police would drive him home, and the police chief would then have a chip to play in the political game. A fellow city worker not driving drunk but with an open beer would have likely been told to pour the beer out and get home.

People call that the good ole boy system. But, frankly, it was not all that different than what others found in encounters with police in small towns years ago. Teenagers caught with beer would have the beer taken from them, and then the police take them home, where the officers would tell the parents about what the teenager had been up to. Now, the teenagers are arrested and carry a record with them.

People tend to forget this, but fighting was handled the same way. Two good ole boys got in a fight, the police would break it up. That usually ended it. Now, people are arrested for just saying they are going to fight someone.

Law enforcement has a slew of good reasons to play things so tightly now. Liability is a factor, gangs are a factor, as is the general breakdown in respect and civility that people seem to have with one another. VUI learned firsthand this week that a handshake and a verbal agreement does not mean anything anymore. The days of letting Otis have the key to the Mayberry jail to let himself in are over.

We live in a different world. One in which everyone, including law enforcement are on edge, and the opportunities of giving leeway to common sense or to respect are stemmed by notions of "zero tolerance."

Thus, it is fitting that if "zero tolerance" gets a kid an arrest record for carrying his pocketknife to school or for a schoolyard brawl, it should get a Mayor arrested for DUI. Welcome, public officials, to the world we live in.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Across the board budget cuts are just lazy

There are reports that the South Carolina state government will issue another two percent budget cut to all state government. Perhaps a cut of so much money is needed. But, with the legislature in session next week an across the board budget cut is political cowardly and just lazy.

The problem that state government funding has had for years is that state government often does not set priorities and fund “first things first.” It is a leftover result of the old days when Democrats ran the show. One of the best tricks by Democrats was to fund the unnecessary and then demand a tax increase to fund the necessary.

With the exception of those Republicans calling for a tobacco tax increase, Republicans are not calling for a tax increase. Instead, they are asking Public Safety to cut as much as commerce and the like. It is politically expedient. No one’s sacred political cow gets cut out entirely. Lobbyists and activists then back off a bit. It makes good political sense to have across the board cuts, in that it keeps the lobbyists and bureaucrats happy.

But, it makes no governing sense whatsoever. The state government of South Carolina is like any other entity. It needs to spend its available resources on the most important things to it, and then spend what is left on the superfluous. Frankly, do we want to cut the Highway Patrol equally with the state parks, or do we want to fund the Highway Patrol fully and cut things like state parks and Commerce Department travel more?

Most of the members of the General Assembly were elected espousing some form of the idea of making government work more like a business. Well, if that were the case, then those members of the General Assembly would stand up and set priorities for government spending. They would sit down, do the homework, and decide which agencies provided essential services and which did not and allocate cuts accordingly.

Such is not easy work, but in these times, easy ways out should not be sought. Frankly, it is just hard for the average person in South Carolina to understand why the state troopers in their county must have their hours cut and the school buses that their children ride upon have maintenance cut but superfluous bureaucratic programs remain funded. Across the board cuts set up such a situation. It is just plain laziness that defies common business sense.

VUI recognizes the political realities of the situation. There are lobbyists and bureaucrats who have strong ties to the General Assembly. Fair enough. However, regardless of what you think the priorities of state spending should be, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see the General Assembly meet and debate such priorities openly when it comes to such cuts?

Instead, we, the people of South Carolina, get laziness and the best calculated political move. That leaves us the real losers of the state budget game

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

VUI Top 9 most powerful politicians in SC

In compiling this list, VUI did not join in the parlor games of what political insider, lobbyist or consultant had the most power. We will leave that urinating contest to others. Instead, VUI looked at elected officials and determined which among them are the most powerful. These are guys the consultants and lobbyists have to live with, whether they like them or not. Here we go.

9) SC State Representative Dan Cooper, (R- Piedmont). As Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Cooper is the heavy in all budget decisions. House members line up to win his favor as the budget is put together.

8) SC State Senator Hugh Leatherman, (R-Florence). Leatherman is Chairman of the State Senate Finance Committee, which gives him the weight of Cooper in the House. Leatherman gets the edge because of the state senate rules.

7) Congressman Joe Wilson. Wilson’s outburst of “you lie!” might have rallied Democrats, but it rallied Republicans more. At the end of 2010, Wilson will likely be the senior Republican on the SC delegation to the United States House.

6) Congressman Jim Clyburn. Clyburn is known for his personal touch and his famous fish fries. Clyburn also has the safest Congressional seat in South Carolina and the ear of the President of the United States.

5) Congressman John Spratt. Spratt faces a tough challenge in 2010, but he remains South Carolina’s most influential voice in the federal budget process.

4) Senator Lindsey Graham. Sure, some GOP activists loathe the guy. Other Republicans like me criticize him. But, Graham has growing clout on Capitol Hill that cannot be ignored.

3) Senator Jim DeMint. DeMint is hated by the left in this state. But, DeMint has the old Thurmond knack of standing for the right and serving his constituents. DeMint has a lot more bipartisan respect and support than some want to give him. Not only will DeMint cruise to re-election, but it is likely DeMint will emerge as the true leader of SC’s federal delegation.

2) South Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Bobby Harrell. Government at the state level often impacts our daily lives much more than government at the federal level. With such a weakened Governor, the General Assembly is now where the action is. Speaker Harrell made sure of that and will push his agenda fully this session.

1) South Carolina State Senator and State Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell. There is one member of the General Assembly who knows the rules and the ends of out of Columbia better than Speaker Harrell: Glenn McConnell. The man who would have never been Lt. Governor has a tight grip on the SC State Senate and every bill of any consequence has to come through him. Even “reform” he proposes seems to take care of him, and no one seems to have the guts to call him on it. Like the legendary Edgar Brown of old, McConnell remains and Governors and other statewide officials come and go. Nothing in Columbia gets done without him.

writing for the folks

There is something missing in politics today. There is something so wrong that it is hard for anyone who loves this country and state to admit. One grows up believing in America, believing in South Carolina. Then, the facts just fly in your face.

Political and financial influence carries the day. People who work hard to pay the bills and live their lives are often ignored. So many are concerned about which high powered and high paid consultant will come along and tell the people what to think. Democrats in the United States Congress, and the President of the United States, in the name of helping the folks, are about to enact a law that makes the folks buy insurance from their political contributors or face IRS type fines. People who work hard and have simple beliefs like having a gun to protect their families are made fun of and made out to be stupid.

Republicans unfortunately are not better. They wrap themselves around their contributors in the finance industry. Both Republicans and Democrats seem to be all too eager to forget the constitution and the sacrifices of our fighting men and women in order to make sure that their campaign contributors get theirs.

It is the ultimate good ole boys club. It is a club in which being AWOL from work is okay. It is a club in which those who dare speak against it find themselves called ignorant, stupid and frankly, have a hard time in their dealing with the government at various levels.

Let’s be frank, if you are a line worker for Timken in Honea Path or for BMW in Spartanburg, chances are if you call and voice a concern to anyone in government, you will be handled. Staffers patronize people every day. Deep down, those staffers think we are just too stupid to know what really goes on or what really should be done. Each and every day, hard working South Carolinians face exchanges with political or government staffers that are little more than insults. From student loans to employment security issues to taxes, South Carolinians are constantly handled.

Jokes are made about some of them that call in when staffers and politicos gather at watering holes in Columbia’s Vista area. Staffers sit around and drink and all but make fun of the people who elect their bosses and give them their jobs. Before any of you cry “foul,” just remember I have been there and I have heard such firsthand.

Let’s be frank. We have big government now at the state and federal levels like never before. And, big money has stepped in to make sure big government does its bidding. The average man has no chance in today’s times. That is why VUI has always been against big government. Big government is the one thing that can be hijacked and force the average man to cow to big business.

Just look at the blogs out there today. They rant and rave about which consultant is best, who is getting paid to do what and the like. Few, if any, worry about how politics affects your lives.

We at VUI are willing to take the hits. We have taken a few already. We are going to stand up and talk about how bureaucracy and lobbyists hurt the people. We are going to continue to try to show you how the magic show that is politics is done. We don’t get paid big money for this. For that matter, the big money bloggers ignore us. So be it. We write for the people. We stand for government that is limited, not only to protect us from bureaucrats, but to protect us from the lobbyists who want government to act for their paid interests. In 2010, VUI will continue to fight for the average man and woman. Whatever the cost, we stand for the people of South Carolina first and always.

A wild Monday on the coast

The New Year is getting started off in an unexpected way down on the coast of South Carolina. First, in the sports world, the Charleston Cougars shocked the college basketball nation by upsetting the ninth ranked North Carolina Tarheels in a rare home game against a bigger team. What makes the upset really big is that the mid major Cougars seemed be struggling this season under legendary coach Bobby Cremins. But, Cremins apparently still had some magic left to pull out of his bag of tricks, and the Cougar win is easily gong to be one of 2010's biggest sports upsets.

Some folks were as shocked over Congressman Henry Brown's retirement announcement as they were about the Charleston basketball win. Frankly, VUI is not shocked over Brown's retirement. Brown is 74, has spent nearly 30 years in public life and has the right to call his own political ending. There is something honorable about a man or woman knowing when it is time to step down and do so with dignity and grace. So, VUI says, thank you Henry Brown for your service to South Carolina and for you dignified and graceful exit from the political scene.

That said, every political blogger, pundit and news outlet are offering speculation about who will be running to replace Brown. Brown's exit does make 2010 more interesting for South Carolina. One third of the South Carolina U.S. House delegation will be replaced for sure. In addition, Bob Inglis, Joe Wilson and John Spratt all face tougher than normal races. The only completely safe seat is the one held by Jim Clyburn.

The names for Brown's race alone go on and on. There are state representatives, state senators, political activists, Thurmonds, Campbells, and even the likes of former Congressman Tommy Hartnett, Governor Mark Sanford, and Lt. Governor Andre Bauer mentioned. VUI will be honest enough to state we don't know who will be the next Congressman from the First District at this time. It could be someone we have never heard of before in state politics. Such happened in a year much like this one, 1994, when some real estate developer who sat up card tables at Wal-Marts to talk to voters got elected. That guy's name was Mark Sanford.

But, of course, the pundits will pontificate. By months end, someone will, either trying to show off their skills, or doing what they are paid to, declare the front runner for Disrict 1. VUI is hoping one of the nice carriage drivers of Charleston joins the race, or one of those basket weavers at the Charleston Market who have pithy bits of wisdom to say while they are making baskets. Perhaps it will be some ole sea dog captain of a shrimp boat. Perhaps a hotel owner who has pleased customers for years will step up. How refreshing it would be to have a member of Congress in South Carolina who was not tied to this or that consulting firm and knew how the real folks of South Carolina live everyday.

Chances are, none of those folks will be the next Congressman from the First District. But, after what Charleston did on the basketball court, we can dream can't we?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Obama's "Brownie"

You’re doing a good job, Brownie,” then President George W. Bush said to his FEMA director Mike Brown in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005. Eight months into Bush’s second term, those remarks shaped Bush’s second term and the public’s perception of him as New Orleans remained a mess. The President seemed out of touch in the midst of a great national security issue. As stated before on this blog, Katrina created the image of George W. Bush that Bush carries now.

It seems President Obama might have his own “Brownie” in Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Like Brown in FEMA, Secretary Napolitano has a resume long on politics and short on emergency operations. Though Napolitano did serve as Arizona’s Governor and Attorney General, Secretary Napolitano is best known in liberal circles for her roles as an appointed US Attorney under Bill Clinton and as an attorney for Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas hearings of 1991.

As Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano has not disappointed the politically active Left. First, she signed off on a report that said military veterans could become right wing extremists and thus threats to national security. Napolitano apologized for those remarks, but they still were made. Then she gave an interview to a German news agency in which she dubbed terrorism as “man made disasters.” Then there was her insult to Canada for having terrorists slip through their border in response to questions about the Mexican border. She answered all such matters as a political activist first.

It was Napolitano’s response to the attempted terrorist attack on an airliner in Detroit on Christmas Day that has led to bipartisan calls for her resignation. Napolitano stated the Sunday after Christmas that “the system worked.” Napolitano’s definition of the system working is odd at best. Apparently, in Napolitano’s view, a Islamic extremist whose own father warned authorities of his intention to attack the United States was allowed on a plane with explosives, but since a combination of the explosives failing and a couple of fellow passengers protecting themselves occurred, security is okay.

To be fair to Secretary Napolitano, she and the Obama White House have backed off her Sunday remarks. But, like her veteran remarks, they were made. It does bring back memories of Brownie shopping as Katrina approached. Sure, Mr. Brown regretted doing that after the fact, but the fact remains he did it. It is striking that the same people who correctly held Mr. Brown accountable for his actions seem oblivious to Secretary Napolitano.

Let VUI be clear. If the questionable activity of Secretary Napolitano were personal, such as an affair or a bad debt or whatever else strictly personal, we probably would chalk it up to being human. But, when the person charged with Homeland Security continues to make remarks about security and acts through a prism of pure partisan politics, it cannot be tolerated. A politician can be forgiven for personal failings, but cannot be forgiven for making boneheaded remarks about national security policy.

The President’s approval numbers are dipping to levels close to President Bush’s. Over the next few weeks, Napolitano will have to resign. Once Napolitano does resign, the Obama team will need to approach Homeland Security the way it approached Defense. Retaining Secretary Gates was lauded by sensible folks on both sides of the political aisle. Perhaps a retired General, such as Wesley Clark, an avowed Democrat, would be a good choice. A bipartisan choice would be Rudolph Guiliani, if he would take the job. There are others out there who would put political activism second to national security.

The bottom line is Janet Napolitano is shaping up to be Obama’s “Brownie.” Neither the President nor the American people can endure such again.