Saturday, February 27, 2010

Top 9 Things that WILL NOT be cut from the SC Budget

9) The prison help at the Governor’s Mansion, hey we are paying those guys less than min. wage anyway, right?

8) Jim Rex’s executive staff at the SC Department of Education. After all, making sure those folks get paid is all about the kids, or at least their kids having moms and dads that get paid.

7) The SC DOT. A Sanford friend has to earn until the last minute for him and his.

6) The SC House Speaker’s travel budget. If the Governor can go to Argentina, we gotta let ole Bobby go somewhere, right?

5) The amount of money spent on state employees at the highest levels, but hey Rex Rice is gonna make sure we don’t pay for abortions, so ain’t we conservative?

4) The salaries and expenses of the top employees of the SC Budget and Control Board. After all, if the state does not pay them more for the little work that they do, they might tell people how silly their agency is.

3) The budget for the Hunley project. Glenn McConnell does love to play dress up and we had better make sure we pay out for it. We in SC do not need McConnell being angry at us for not getting him the best costume to play dress up in.

2) The every important Green Bean Museum, championed by Mr. Greenbean himself, Hugh Leatherman.

1) The super secret, code word budget of the Department of Commerce. We gotta give those guys a blank check to get investment. So what if it is akin to paying five million dollars for the bullet Barney Fife carried in his shirt pocket? Sanford says we gotta pay it to his buddies, right?

What is happening to good ole high school basketball?

A few weeks ago, two schools called off a high school basketball game because they feared violence. A recent AA upstate semi final game between Abbeville and Southside justified those fears.

The game was a great match up, with Southside finding a way to win over the visiting Panthers. What followed was ugly. As the SC High School League sees it, Abbeville players started a fight. Eight Abbeville players were suspended from school for five days by Abbeville officials. The SC High School League will let Southside play on in the Upstate final.

Who knows who was to blame for the fight. Abbeville will argue its points. Southside will argue its. The SC High School League made its.

One thing is certain, the fight was just ugly. It was an abomination to the spirit of high school sports and to the game of basketball. Basketball is a great game, and has no place for thugs. Everyone involved should be ashamed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yes, there is a problem with the Employment Security Commission

For months now, the debate about the South Carolina Employment Security Commission has raged on. During that time, VUI has held its tongue, so to speak, because, as the Editor, I do not like to write about things that personally affect me.

But, as the debate goes on, perhaps it is time to share the nightmare experience I had with the ESC. Maybe others can identify with what happened to me and my business and join in the demand for reform.

In the summer of 2009, my business received notification from the ESC that a man in Lexington County filed for unemployment benefits from my small business. The man had never been employed by my small business. No one in my business even knew who the man was. I took the form sent to me by the ESC to my local office, along with my forms showing the man never was employed by my business. I signed an appeal and the local people assured me that the matter was concluded and even shared my frustration.

It did not end there. Some weeks later, a letter was sent to my small business telling me that the man in question was approved by the Lexington County office to draw benefits and that my business’s account would be charged. If I challenged such, I was told by the letter to call a Columbia number.

Dutifully, I personally called that number for a better part of a business day. What I got was astounding. The number would ring and ring until it said, without offering voicemail, that no one was available to answer the call. At other times, the number would simply be busy. I grew frustrated and I had things to do. I ended up instructing my secretary to call the number until she got someone and to explain the situation.

Eventually, after a great deal of wasted time, my business reached someone and the problem was remedied. To the ESC’s credit, the money to my small business’s account was restored, and “knock on wood” our rates will not go up.

But, the problem is such a thing happened in the first place. How does the system allow someone who NEVER was employed by a business to draw benefits and drag out setting such right? How can a state agency charged with so much money be so incompetent? How can South Carolina be a friendly place for business when businesses have to spend so much time just trying to correct the government’s mistakes?

So, yes, there is a real problem with the Employment Security Commission. I learned it firsthand.

It appears that Haley sees Barrett as her primary foe

Various factors lead VUI to conclude that the gubernatorial campaign of Nikki Haley sees Congressman Gresham Barrett as her main foe on the road to a runoff against Attorney General Henry McMaster.

First, there are the pro-Haley bloggers out there that rail against Gresham Barrett's record as a Congressman and hint at unsubstantiated rumors about Barrett's personal life.

Indeed, VUI received an email from a relatively anonymous source. That very strange email went on how Congressman Barrett, along with other Republican standouts ruined the sender's personal life. It closed with praise for Nikki Haley. It oddly seemed like another email received last summer that spoke of the Lt. Governor's personal life, but again somehow found a few lines in praise of Haley.

But, the official words of the Haley campaign made sure of the theory VUI had that Haley was after Barrett. In an official press release on February 23rd, the Haley campaign blasted Barrett for his bank bailout vote, (oddly enough, such was mentioned in the strange email), and then noted how even the ultimate RINO, John McCain, felt duped by then Secretary of the Treasury Paulson to vote for the bailout.

Fair enough. That is politics. VUI will not publish the contents of the strange email we received some months ago, because frankly, the accusations are unsubstantiated and hard to believe. But, the constant in those emails and in the latest Haley press release is the focus on Gresham Barrett. The logical conclusion is that the Haley people see Barrett as their biggest obstacle to the runoff and are firing everything that they have, and pretend to have at him.

So much for a positive and above board campaign by Haley. Haley is acting very much the good ole gal politician after all. Haley should not be faulted for that, for that is probably what it is going to take to get to the runoff. And, the runoff, according to Haley supporters VUI has talked to is the goal. Those folks think that Nikki Haley will whip McMaster in a straight up runoff, fair and square. Between now and the runoff, you can bet Haley won't be all sugar and spice and everything nice.

It is going to be interesting to see what Haley's denied attack dogs hit next.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spratt is in trouble and other Congressional race thoughts

South Carolina Congressional races are starting to shape up around the state. While everyone seems to be reporting on the wide open filed along the coast in the First District, there are interesting races in the Third, Fourth and Fifth Districts. As Spring approaches, even figuring out what consultant is running races in different districts is becoming easier, as similar ads are ran by candidates whose campaigns are ran by the same consultants.

The Third and Fifth especially come to mind due to recent news. In the Third District, State Rep. Rex Rice is posturing hard for the hardcore right vote that makes up such a big part of the Third District. First, Rice brought in Mike Huckabee to endorse him. Then, Rex got quoted in The State supporting a state budget measure that will ban state health insurance paying for all abortions, including those for women who were victims of rape or whose lives are in danger. That is going to boost Rex's standing among hard core pro-lifers. Look for Rice to take other very socially conservative stands over the next few weeks. Not only is it good politics for the Third in a Republican primary, but it helps Rex gloss over his not so conservative record on government spending.

Speaking of government spending, the man in charge of such in the United States House faces real trouble. Congressman John Spratt is a legend in the Fifth District and comes from the connected class of the region he represents. That has allowed Spratt to stay on as a Democratic Congressman in a district that has trended against Democrats for some time.

However, Spratt's powerful position could be his undoing. As Chairman of the US House Budget Committee, Spratt is becoming a lightening rod for those opposed to overspending. A recent Public Policy Surveying poll has Spratt with a 46 to 39 lead over Republican State Senator Mike Mulvaney. While still in the lead, the fact that Spratt is at 46 percent after nearly 28 years in Congress has to give Democrats pause. Traditionally, when a well known and long serving incumbent is below 50 percent, trouble is on the horizon. Undecideds typically tend to break against the incumbent in such situations. If that happens, Spratt is in trouble.

That trouble for Spratt will hurt the Democrats running in the safer Republican districts. The Democrats are not going to spend resources on gambles when they have to fight to save Spratt.

That said, there is a big factor still sitting out there that might affect Congressional races around the country and in South Carolina's Fifth District. The majority of the money in the Obama stimulus package has not been spent yet. Do not be surprised in the late summer and early fall that a candidate like Spratt starts touting how he got money for schools, bridges, roads, etc. If that happens, the Republicans will have to have a clear message and a strong organization to win a district like Spratt's. Spratt is in trouble, but all that means is it time for the Republicans in the Fifth District to work harder and get their act together.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

RIP, Al Haig

Alexander Haig is dead at the age of 85. Haig was a General in the United States Army, a White House Chief of Staff and the Secretary of State of the United States. In 1988, Haig ran unsuccessfully for President of the United States.

Haig was known as a man who knew how to take charge in a crisis. That reputation would prove to be a double edged sword to Haig. Haig is best known by pundits for assuming too much power on March 31st, 1981. President Ronald Reagan had been shot. Uncertainty was in the air as then Vice President George H.W. Bush was incommunicado during his flight from Texas to Washington.

Haig, sensing the potential chaos, took the White House briefing room lectern to declare that he was in charge constitutionally at the White House. Haig flubbed the line of succession and upset other cabinet members such as Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger.

Haig would never politically recover from his actions on the day Reagan was shot. Haig's credibility in the Reagan Administration quickly waned, and Haig would resign as Secretary of State on July 5th, 1982.

However, Haig's stint as Secretary of State should not define him. Haig was a winner of the Silver Star and Purple Heart. Haig's military career was without reproach.

But, Haig's role as White House Chief of Staff during the last days of the Richard Nixon Administration and the first days of the Gerald Ford Administration were Haig's finest moments.

It is difficult for many of us to imagine what the year 1974 was like. Richard Nixon was under intense scandal, and according to writings of the time, probably a bit mentally ill from the strain. General Alexander Haig had been picked in 1973 to be Chief of Staff because he was dedicated to America and seemed non controversial to political figures.

Haig's tenure as White House Chief of Staff would see the most controversial of times for a President. As Nixon languished, friends and foes alike saw Haig as doing the really heavy lifting of the Presidency. Haig would be credited with not only talking Nixon into resigning, but in working out the transition between Nixon and Ford. In short, Haig was credited by many for holding the executive branch together as the constitutional crisis of Watergate unfolded.

It is for that service that General Haig should first be remembered. Further, history should temper its criticism of him on the day Reagan was shot. While Haig was misinformed of the constitutional line of succession to the Presidency, his acts that day were well intentioned. The old General saw chaos and wanted to bring order so that people would calm down and do the nation's business. Nothing suggests that his acts that day were motivated by anything other than a old General's sense to do his nation service.

General Haig was a stand up guy. America is a lesser place without him. Rest in Peace, General Haig, and thank you for your service to our country.

The Obama economic health care plan

The Obama Administration and defenders of it such as Congressman Jim Clyburn have recently made a comparison of the economy to the health of a heart patient in that the stimulus was needed to jolt the patient that is the national economy back to life. For the sake of argument, VUI will run the Democratic analogy.

While it might be true that a small part of the stimulus and bailout money spent were like the paddles applied to a patient in cardiac arrest, the rest of such only adds to the economic health problem.

Here is how Dr. Democrat is handling the situation. The economic patient is the American people. Once brought back from being flat on their backs, Dr. Democrat hands them a cheeseburger, some fries and a few beers, along with a pill to reduce the chance of another blockage. The expensive pill has severe side effects and mixed results, but Dr. Democrat says,” just pay for the pill and you can keep living how you want and eating and drinking what you will. As long as you pay for the pill, you will be taken care of.” Dr. Democrat then goes out to dinner at some expensive place with a drug representative who sells the pill.

Democrats are outraged when the above scenario occurs in real health care. They are correct to be. But, Democrats are blind to the fact that there own economic health care measures are just the same.

The vast majority of the stimulus and bailout packages passed send money to government entities and financial institutions. The big unions and lobbyists have their control. However, the mismanagement of big business and the waste of big government were the cheeseburgers and beer that gave our economy its most recent coronary episode. The magic pill to Democrats is the stimulus that props up such failures.

Like so many of us are in our personal lives with health choices, the Democrats do not face what really ails the economy. We compete in a world economy in which overregulation, overtaxing and political correctness are the junk food we consume while the rest of the world just competes. Dr. Big Government comes along and tells us a magic pill called stimulus will let us keep going along as we will.

The problem is the magic pill will only work for so long. Just like in our own personal health lives, real recovery takes real change. There are no magic pills. To truly recover, we have to realize what we are up against, and act to change. For our economic life to recover, big government has to put down the cheeseburger. Government has to find a way to tell big business and big labor “no” on laws and regulations tailored fit to them that hamper competition on the global scale. Big government has to put down the donut that is the tax dollar. The American people have to be inspired to do the economic exercise that is work and entrepreneurship.

Any person who faces recovery from a heart attack, stroke or cancer will tell you recovery is hard work. Medicine is only short term. If the leaders of America insist on comparing the economy to a sick patient, they should keep that in mind. And, the last thing any patient needs is the babble from quacks who think that some magic pill called stimulus will do the work. If we listen to the quacks, our next economic health episode will be due in a few years and will be much more dire.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Top 9 things most people do not care about

9) The sexual dreams of a sixty something year old accountant.

8) Whether or not attorneys working for Attorney General McMaster have the contents of their files fastened tightly in file folders and are at their desks by 8:30 on the dot.

7) What Sarah Palin is offended about this week.

6) Who has the most talented women’s curling team in the world.

5) If some Muslim is offended because he gets searched at an airport.

4) Who is running for Lt. Governor of South Carolina.

3) Whether Tiger Woods is sorry or not.

2) The ramblings of Dick Cheney.

1) What President Obama thinks about Jessica Simpson’s sexual prowess, Las Vegas, college football, health care, or anything else.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Do we have it in us to be like Churchill?

Winston Churchill is remembered today as a great leader and fighter for freedom. But in his time, Churchill was ridiculed often for what some saw as his obsession with Nazis and the threat that Nazis presented to the idea of freedom. Churchill called things as they were, and cared not for political correctness. Yet, Churchill always believed that he was destined to save freedom from tyranny.

History would reward Churchill as a man of destiny who stood against tyranny in freedom’s darkest hour. Churchill was politically incorrect. He was stubborn. But, he was feared by the enemies of freedom because he was an honest man.

Freedom faces the same foes now it did during Churchill’s time in the political wilderness. Though the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 should have made America and the rest of the free world aware of what they face, it really didn’t. While the United States is taking military action in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, security measures taken in the United States are tinged with political correctness. The Obama Administration especially seems ignorant of the real threat that freedom faces.

While the powers that be in the free world bend over backwards to cater to Islamic eccentricities, the Islamic extremists plot the end of the freedoms we know. The Islamic extremists do want to negotiate or live in peaceful coexistence with us. They want to kill us. Such is taught in mosques and schools throughout their influence. If you take time to read the teachings of such extremists, you will find that the very existence of a free society like the United States is offensive to them.

The Islamic extremists simply cannot tolerate the fact that our society lets women have rights and that we do not stone homosexuals who don’t have sex with goats. It is ironic that the most liberal among us are the first to want to negotiate with the people who would kill them for living as they do.

We are facing an enemy that wants to just kill us. But, do we as Americans have it in us to be like Churchill, and face the reality of the threat we face and do what we need to address it? Or, are we so politically correct that we will let the tyrannical run roughshod over us so that we can feel better about ourselves? Will we fight? Will we get real and take Islamic extremists to task and keep them from using our compassion to take advantage against us? Or will we, as a people, be so weak as to give up our freedoms under the notion of giving rights to Islamic extremists?

The answer to those questions is coming all too soon. The religious nuts running Iran brag about having a nuclear weapon and missiles to deliver such to Israel and Europe. China sits on the sidelines, holding the free world’s debt. Freedom as we know it has never been as threatened as it is now. Do we have the courage and grit of Churchill? Will face the danger and do what we must? Or will we bury ourselves in a mound of wimpy political correctness?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More election year BS from the SC House

You know it is an election year in South Carolina when the South Carolina House starts worrying about passing legislation to score points with some groups instead of solving problems. VUI has addressed the texting and driving ban and how absurd and redundant that legislation is. Now, with all the problems the state faces, the South Carolina House is going to tackle the problem of people making alcohol runs on Christmas and Thanksgiving.

South Carolina House Bill 4451 will make alcohol sales illegal on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Some might say "Thank God." But, before you thank God for such, keep this in mind, every petty law made for your beliefs can set the precedent for someone to come along later and make petty laws against your beliefs.

Some of the sponsors of the bill argue that they want to prevent alcohol abuse at holiday gatherings of friends and family. That is a noble goal. But, frankly, the government can not make people have good sense. Anyone in government who thinks that government can legislate good sense is either arrogant or delusional.

Let's be frank. If people are going to "get their drink on" on Thanksgiving or Christmas they will stock up for the holidays. The legislation proposed will do nothing about people who act stupid on the holidays, but it will give legislators something to thump their chests about in the primaries in June.

Think how silly it all is. Members of the House can stand tall and say, " I did not reform government, I did not cut your taxes or fund first things first in the budget, but I fought to make sure people can not buy alcohol on Jesus's birthday or when your mama fixes Thanksgiving Dinner."

There will be voters who will buy that line from House members. But, even more insulting to the people of South Carolina is the idea that the political class, who themselves seem more and more of out of control of their own personal appetites, have the audacity to think that the rest of us do not have the judgment to decide whether or not to make a run to buy alcohol on Christmas or Thanksgiving, or any other day for that matter. It's outrageous that the folks who drink up the Vista want to tell the rest us we can't buy alcohol on Thanksgiving because we are not responsible enough. It is the old classic hypocrisy of "do as I say, not as I do."

Unfortunately, that sums up this General Assembly. We are in difficult times, but they worry about puff stuff to win this or that block of voters. No wonder we are in the mess we are in. We have people in the House who actually think that banning alcohol sales on Thanksgiving and Christmas is important. I wonder if someone came up with the idea over drinks at Uncle Louie's.

Good grief, Mr. Eckstrom, leave Charlie Brown out of this

The State newspaper and other websites and publications have published South Carolina’s latest addition to the humor material of the national media: the emails sent to Superintendent of Education candidate Kelly Payne by Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom.

Reading through the emails published is uncomfortable. On some level, such seemingly pathetic drivel from Eckstrom to Payne is none of our business. It has the makings of a Jerry Lee Lewis song. VUI would go on about privacy except for two things.

First, both Eckstrom and Payne have surrounded themselves with politicos who would go after the hint of sex scandal against anyone opposed to their candidacies or agendas. Those politicos make fun of other political figures in the most personal and nasty of nature. While VUI is all for humor, some of the stuff put out by people in those camps over the years has just been downright mean. It seems sort of a rough justice that two of their pet “reform” candidates are caught up in such a thing.

Second, Eckstrom had to invoke Peanuts. That is where VUI draws the line. The Peanuts Cartoon is an American treasure. It is good clean American fun for people off all ages. It is simply unacceptable for someone to use Peanuts to make a wronged would be lover email. Here is the content of that email, as published in the State:

From: Richard Eckstrom
To: “Kelly Payne”
Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2009, 11:33 PM
Dear Lucy,
I’m so very dense…some things will NEVER change (diarrhea- you’ve used that one at least 3 times now, headaches, tired and worn-out – you use that over and over including this afternoon, stress, politics, throwing up, kids being bad, etc. etc. etc…). I’m clearly just your comic strip joke.
I know from experience that a person never has enough time to fit in everything, but most people make room in their lives for the things they really desire. It’s become more and more clear you don’t desire to make me any meaningful part of your life.
Your call. No hard feelings…but sure I’m disappointed. Anyway I should be spending more time lavishing my dear mother with the consistent, dependable, sacrificial love she lavished on me for a lifetime. Best of all, she’d delight in every measure of love I’d show her.
Hopefully your friend anyway but at a less threatening level to you. You can keep the football.
Charlie Brown

What a disservice to Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown was no piss ant. He would shout “Aaugh!” when Lucy moved the football he was trying to kick, but he then went on with life. He did not write letters to Lucy about unfair it was she moved the football. Charlie Brown never brought his mama into the conversation. That is just wrong.

So, Mr. Eckstrom, you can write pining letters to whomever, but please, leave Charlie Brown’s name out of it. Good ole Charlie Brown does not need his name smeared so.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Upstate's Southern Connector is in default

The idea of creating a bypass under the Greenville area was a good one in theory. Anyone who has driven through the headache that is traffic around Interstates 85 and 385 will agree that area is to be avoided if practicable. Thus, it was proposed a little over a decade ago to extend the short Interstate 185 under the Greenville metro area and connect it with Interstate 385 in the Mauldin area. The Southern Connector was born.

The Southern Connector was to be funded privately, through a nonprofit cooperation, dubbed Connector Association 2000. The nonprofit sold bonds to finance the road. The road was licensed by the South Carolina Department of Transportation. Tolls from the road were to be collected to pay back the bondholders for their investment.

The problem with the Southern Connector is that the traffic and tolls expected never materialized. For whatever reason, the income just did not come in.

That lack of tolls resulted in Event Notice 2010-1 from Connector Association, Inc, issued on January 11th, 2010. In that Event Notice, it was made clear to the public that $200,177,680 in bonds issued by Connector 2000 Associates, Inc, and underwritten by Lehman Brothers, Inc and Mesirow Financial, Inc. were in default. Indeed, the debt service payment due on January 1st, 2010 was not paid.

Thus, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the Southern Connecter bonds to a grade of “D.” That rating is so low, it is not even described in detail on the Standard and Poor’s website. In sum, the investment in the Southern Connector was a failure by those who chose to do so.

What happens next? Who knows? There appear to be efforts in the South Carolina House and in the SC DOT to refinance the bonds that the Southern Connector has defaulted on. That will probably take some sort of payment from the taxpayers of South Carolina to make happen. Others contend that the state could just take over the road. No matter what course is taken, it is going to cost money and it is going to be tricky to get over the failure of the Southern Connector.

Such opens the question about how wise any other “public-prvate” ventures might be for South Carolina. Some in the General Assembly are contending that a new Interstate 73 in the Pee Dee be funded similar to the Southern Connector. They argue tolls from people outside South Carolina will fund the road as those outsides travel to the Grand Strand. Fair enough.

But, the Southern Connector should give the taxpayer pause. For, if such a project encourages private risk takers to invest in it, and if it fails, efforts are made to use public money to try to make those private investors whole, what are the savings to the taxpayer? Further, how many of us, as individuals, who made a bad investment in a company will have the government make us whole? Why should those who invest in a “private-public” road be guaranteed a profit for their risks with taxpayer money?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Obama to South Carolina: "Let it glow."

For over two decades now, the federal government has been promising South Carolina its nuclear waste from the Savannah River Plant would be shipped to Yucca Mountain, Nevada. After all the federal government asked South Carolina to create most of the nuclear ingredients for its nuclear weapons, the least it could do was to find a place to store the waste.

The promises about Yucca Mountain kept coming from the Reagan, Bush the Eldler, Clinton and Bush the Younger’s Administrations. President Obama stopped the Yucca Mountain deal. When it comes to South Carolina, President Obama seems to be saying, “let it glow.”

What made President Obama reverse a deal over 20 years in the making? Simple politics did. People around the President are still outraged with Congressman Joe Wilson and even more outraged that he seems to be headed to re-election. The Obama team loathes much of the SC Congressional delegation, and giving them a political black eye is only enhanced when doing such helps Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid look effective to Nevada voters.

Reid can campaign around Nevada now, telling Nevada voters he made those “rednecks” from South Carolina keep their nuclear waste.

The only problem is that the waste at SRP is not South Carolina’s. It is America’s. The nuclear materials made at SRP are not for the South Carolina National Guard. South Carolina has done its part in keeping America safe. Nevada needs to kick in and do its part.

But, that is not going to happen. Politics first is the motto of the Obama Administration. Harry Reid was rewarded. South Carolina was punished. For those of you in South Carolina who believe that President Obama is looking out for you, well, just remember his Yucca Mountain decision. It was one in which the President of the United States’ decision said to the people of South Carolina, “sorry for all you have sacrificed, and all you deal with, but Harry Reid comes before all of you people down there. Glowing could be a good thing.”

VUI video of the week runner up: a tribute to politics today

Watch it and weep. It is an old Waylon tune from the tv series the Dukes of Hazzard. The Dukes characters are found in South Carolina politics.

The characters:

Bo: State Senator Tom Davis
Luke: Governor Mark Sanford
Daisy: Nikki Haley
Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane: Henry McMaster
Boss Hogg: Buck Limehouse
Uncle Jesse: Jakie Knotts.
Cletus: Glenn McConnell
Cooter: Dan Cooper

Watch, learn and enjoy.

VUI Video of the week: Johnny Paycheck

Johnny Paycheck summed up the working man's frustrations with this video. While Governor Mark Sanford is no good ole boy like Paycheck, wouldn't it had been refreshing if Sanford had called Speaker "Line Boss" Harrell a fool and told him to....

Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day Tribute: Chester A. Arthur

President Chester A. Arthur ranks among one of America's least known Presidents. Arthur is little known for good reason.

Elected Vice President of the United States in 1880, Arthur had served in no other elected office. Instead, Arthur was known as a lawyer and political hack whose political achievement previously had been serving as the scandal ridden tax collector at the Port of New York during the Grant Administration.

The Republican Convention of 1880 was a wild affair. After the "stalwarts" section of the GOP failed to nominate former President U.S. Grant, the convention broke down. The convention voted 36 times before it settled with Congressman James Garfield as its Presidential nominee and Chester A. Arthur as is Vice Presidential nominee. Arthur was nominated to calm down the stalwarts. Garfield was a reformer.

The Garfield-Arthur ticket won a close election in 1880, keeping the Presidency in Republican hands. However, on July 2, 1881 Charles J. Guiteau, a stalwart, shot President Garfield. The best and brightest were brought into to aide the President, including Alexander Graham Bell with his metal detector to find the bullets. However, President Garfield died due to his wounds on September 9, 1881, making Chester A. Arthur, a man of little accomplishment, the President of the United States.

The nation was only 16 years removed from a Civil War and the thought that a fanatic of the Vice-President's section of the Republican Party shot the President had to enter the national conscious. Considerable scandal could have ensued had Arthur followed the stalwart line. Arthur pursued some of Garfield's ideas thus making himself independent of whatever notions the assassin might have had. The Pendleton Act reforming civil service especially stated Arthur's independence from the stalwarts.

President Arthur had little chance of nomination or election is in own right. Again, his selection as Vice President was done to placate a faction of his party during a complicated and confusing convention. Greater men starting eying the job the day Arthur was sworn in. Further, Arthur seemed obsessed with the memory of his late wife, who had died months before Arthur was nominated for Vice President.

President Arthur did have his effect upon American history. He oversaw a renovation of the White House and of the United States Navy. The improvement of the United States Navy help set the United States to become a world military power. His support of civil service reform began re-shaping the idea of political patronage. Arthur appointed two United States Supreme Court Justices.

Indeed, President Garfield and President Arthur come from a time that is just foreign to today's American Presidential politics. It is hard to imagine a major party of the United States repeating the Republican convention of 1880 in today's political world. It is unimaginable that a confused and divided convention would produce a relatively unknown lawyer as its Vice Presidential nominee and that person would go on to be President of the United States. But, as a man and President of his time, Arthur rose to the occasion, and though defeated for the nomination of the GOP in 1884, was well respected by commentators of his time such as Mark Twain.

Arthur would live only a few months after leaving office in March of 1885, ordering his personal papers destroyed shortly before his death. Arthur had a line former President Clinton perhaps should have borrowed, " I may be the President of the United States, but my private life is nobody's damn business."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We have seen this before people

Lincoln's Birthday 2010 will be a day to remember in South Carolina. It was indeed a rare day in which snow fell from Hilton Head to Ceaser's Head. But, snow is not the rarity in South Carolina that the media makes it out to be.

Such is especially true in the upstate of South Carolina. Just two weeks ago, a light coating of ice from freezing rain was greeted by a dusting of snow in the upstate. Last March, the upstate got over five inches of the white stuff. On the day of the Republican Presidential Primary in 2008, the upstate was blanketed with snow.

In other words, we have seen snow before. Why people act as if we have not seen snow before is beyond VUI.

That said, it is a rare day that all of South Carolina sees snow. From Oconee County to Jasper County, the SC DOT is reporting wintry road conditions. That is something to note. It has indeed been a long time since the entire state of South Carolina dealt with snow at the same time.

But, this snow event is a lucky one. It happened on a Friday night at the start of a holiday weekend with President's Day on Monday. Thus, major closings are not necessary.

So, enjoy the snow, folks, but act like you have seen it before. Such widespread snow might be rare, but it is not the end of civilization as we know it. A good bit of the snow will be melted by Saturday afternoon. What snow is left will be waiting on the next batch, predicted to fall Sunday night. Welcome to so called global warming.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Today is Lincoln’s Birthday. Abraham Lincoln is the ultimate American icon. There are so many stories about Lincoln from his youth to the day of his assassination. Every political group seems to find a way to claim him and his life. So many have written so much, there seems little to be said that has not been said about Abraham Lincoln.

I dwell on Lincoln the President and compare him to modern Presidents. It is hard to imagine any modern President being anything close to Lincoln. As President-elect, Lincoln was forced to sneak into Washington under disguise. Can one imagine a President-elect today sneaking into town?

Despite sneaking into Washington, Lincoln was politically bold enough to fill his cabinet with rivals to his power. While President Obama gave the Secretary of State post to Hillary Clinton, to compare to Lincoln, President Obama would have to have the likes of John McCain as Secretary of Defense, Jim DeMint as Secretary of the Treasury and Lindsey Graham as Attorney General. Lincoln surrounded himself in power with his ultimate rivals. No President before Lincoln or since Lincoln seemed so blind to politics when deciding who was best to do a job.

Lincoln also had a personal life that would have been exploited by the media of today. His young son tragically died of typhoid fever. Mrs. Lincoln was insane. Few Presidents dealt with such personal problems while in office. It was perhaps his personal problems that made Lincoln so forgiving of so many soldiers facing the death penalty.

There was a press at the time, and they made fun of Lincoln. We honor him now so, but in his day, Lincoln was portrayed as a baboon, a monkey, a fool, a hick, and a tyrant. One wonders if Lincoln would have politically survived his first term, much less been re-elected, had Lincoln served under today’s cable news and internet news scrutiny.

Lincoln wrote his own speeches. His inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg address were his alone. There were no staffers writing his remarks. Lincoln wrote them. There was no staff of speech writers helping President Lincoln with his words as there are today.

Ultimately, Lincoln’s execution of the Presidency was filled with contradictions. On one hand, Lincoln greatly expanded the power of the Presidency and imposed his will to preserve the federal union. On the other hand, Lincoln was so unlike Presidents of today. Lincoln’s office was open to office and pardon seekers. Lincoln would meet with them and then scribble some action needed on a card signed by him and give it to the visitor. Lincoln would ride his horse with less a guard than his generals. Lincoln would fill his cabinet with rivals, but when it came to the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln asked for a vote of the cabinet. When the cabinet voted against it, Lincoln calmly said, with his vote, the ayes have it.

Finally, Lincoln was a man who never regularly attended church who thought that he was on a duty from God to run the nation during the Civil War. He often spoke that when that work was over, he would be over. It is haunting how accurate Lincoln was in that regard. Days after Lee’s surrender, Lincoln was shot dead.

Thus, Lincoln became an American icon. A man of contradictions who seemed destined to save the union, Abraham Lincoln was the most American character ever to occupy the White House and forever set the standard of what a great President should be.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Top 9 things said to politicians that offer little comfort

9) Don’t worry about having to use the teleprompter so much, Mr. President. Sarah Palin writes notes on her hands.

8) Governor, I thought your wife’s book was boring.

7) Congressman, the boy was 18. His pictures sent to you were legal. Relax.

6) But, sir, everyone hates incumbents right now.

5) Congressman Frank, calm down. The protesters are one hundred thousand tea partiers, not tea baggers. There is no need to be so excited.

4) I am sorry, Mr. Drake, but wookies are not exempt from open container laws.

3) Senator, there is no law against voting drunk on the floor of the State Senate. Just don’t text from the State Senate floor.

2) Senator, the baby could be Jeff Goldblum’s.

1) The sex video is grainy. It is hard to tell it is you, sir.

A nightmare under Pascoe

The ultimate nightmare for any citizen is to be jailed for a crime that citizen did not commit. Forget taxes and the like, when the state holds you in jail for its own reasons, later found wrong, that is the ultimate failure of the system.

Such apparently happened to Baru Trump. Trump was arrested and spent over a year in jail awaiting murder charges under Solicitor David Pascoe. As things worked out, it was supposedly discovered that the weapon found on Trump was a weapon he bought from the man eventually charged with the crime Trump was held for.

Now, as Pascoe seeks the office of Attorney General, Trump is suing Pascoe in federal court, asking for damages for Trump’s time in jail. Regardless of how one feels about politics, the fact that a Solicitor let a man sit in jail for a crime that man did not commit should bother all of us.

The merits of the lawsuit will be argued in federal court. However, whether or not to elevate David Pascoe to Attorney General will rest with us, the voters. Frankly, to VUI, Pascoe’s stock went down dramatically. While we want a prosecutor in the Attorney General’s office who will go after criminals, we also want someone who will stand up for the rights of the accused as well and make sure that those wrongly accused have a quick day in court to clear their names.

The ultimate power of the state is arrest and incarceration. The lowest of us deserve their chance to be free of mistakes by the state’s bar. Any Solicitor who ignores that does not deserve a moment of consideration to be the state’s Attorney General. At best, Pascoe seemed inept in the Trump case. At worst, well, VUI will let you fill in the blanks.

Texting and Driving and the big distraction

A bill against texting on a mobile phone and driving continues to move through the SC State Senate. Chances are it will pass and become law. Such legislation is an example how people in Columbia work hard to really very little for the people of the state.

First, let's start with the premise that texting and driving is a bad idea. No one disagrees with that. However, there have been distractions to drivers since driving began. Shall we ban arguing with your spouse and driving? Shall we ban women putting on makeup and driving? Shall we ban eating a hamburger or drinking a soda and driving? The list of distractions go on and on. Each of which can cause an accident.

It is illogical to believe that any of the above distractions are less dangerous than texting while driving. Further, there are laws to deal with such reckless and careless driving, regardless the distraction. So why the urge for a texting and driving ban?

Simple politics are at play. Lobbyists have to prove that they are worth being paid, as do special interests groups. Those people search out the politically "sexier" news stories of the year. This year it is texting and driving. Next year the pet distraction to driving might be shifting the gears of a manual transmission. Who knows?

Once the story is grabbed, it is spun again to the media and presented to legislators. Reports are issued. Survivors of tragic accidents are exploited. But, the lobbyists and special interest groups prove their worth to those who fund them.

The legislators have to prove their worth to the voters. In an election year such as this one, that is especially important. South Carolina faces major problems, such as the Employment Security Commission out of control, an Education system so laden with unprecedented administrative costs that an actual increase in funding results in cuts to the classroom, among other big problems.

The big problems seem too hard for the General Assembly to really tackle. Yet, they must prove their worth. So, they move to ban texting while driving. They can go home and talk about how they "saved lives" and "made the highways safer." All sorts of people can thump their chests about a great victory and how they are worth being around, without actually doing anything to address the big problems of the state.

Some will say a life will be saved by the legislation somewhere. Perhaps. But, there will also be a life lost to someone distracted by the ball game on the radio, by thinking about the project that they forgot at work, by kids yelling in the back, and on and on. Fortunately, there are laws to deal with such in a general nature, as there should be. Choosing one of the many distractions of driving and making a specific law in regards to it is politically motivated superfluous legislation that creates the distraction from the fact that the lobbyists and General Assembly get little done to address the greater problems that face this state.

RIP Charlie Wilson and thank you

Former Democratic Congressman Charlie Wilson of Texas died this week. Charlie Wilson was the hard partying, hard working Democratic Congressman who worked behind the scenes to find the funding for the CIA's assistance to the Afghanistan freedom fighters during the Soviet occupation. It was the largest covert war in American history and helped to bring down the Soviet Union.

The movie "Charlie Wilson's War" added to the legend of "Good Time Charlie." But, there was more fact than legend in his story. Wilson was colorful character, the likes that are few and far between in today's Congress. Few of any, of today's members of Congress would take the risk Charlie Wilson took to do what he thought was right, regardless his perceived personal flaws.

The CIA gave Charlie Wilson the "Honored Colleague Award" for his efforts in the covert war in Afghanistan. Wilson was the first civilian to receive that award.

Indeed, we all owe Charlie Wilson thanks. When America needed a risk taking Congressman to work behind the scenes and wheel and deal to fund the cold war against communism, Wilson was there. RIP Charlie Wilson and thank you.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Why leftists bash Christians

No group in America is so attacked as born again Christians. The staff of VUI is divided among those who attend church on a regular basis and those who do not. But, the entire staff is bothered by what leftists do in regards to Christians. The left pundits call Christians “haters” and “bigots.” They ignore the teaching of hate from Islamic extremists. They instead dwell on Christians.

If anyone who professes a belief in Christ falls from Grace, the left is quick to pound. They do so asking for us to tolerate those who decide to kill in the name of their religion. The leftists chastise people for labeling Islamic extremists, but are quick to label fallen Christians as defining the religion.

Now, the leftists are going after Mother Teresa. They are attacking the issuing of a stamp to be created in Mother Teresa’s honor. To those leftist, Mother Teresa had a great sin. That sin was being a Christian. Mother Teresa worked most of her life living among the poorest of the poor in the slums of India. Such a place has poverty and suffering the likes of which none of us, especially the leftists can ever understand. Mother Teresa gave her life comforting those who most of us put out of our minds. Mother Teresa lived the teachings of Christ.

For that, she is being attacked by leftists who fear her being honored with something as simple as a stamp. That is the logic of the far left. To them, anything Christian must be criticized.

There is a reason for that. The teachings of Christ scare the far leftists. They like to live their lives outside of God. God as the source of human rights removes government. Government is the God of the far left. They depend on government to give them their rights. Further, the teachings of Christ are difficult for leftists to live with. Being honest and open with people has to be put aside if the goals of government demand it. Personal lives must be justified. Leftists loathe the idea that some higher power might have a better idea on how to live than them.

That is why the leftists have so much hate for Christians. That is why they hate the teachings of love taught by Christ. Psychologically, the leftists cannot allow even the hint that some power outside their own egos decides what is right and wrong. As such, the leftists must deride those with Christian faith, insult them, and like a school boy, put their fingers in their ears and pretend that they cannot hear the truth.

Hey PETA, leave those kids alone

The circus is coming to Greenville. That ticks the far left activists of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) off. While all of us with any decency love and enjoy our pets, PETA goes to a level beyond reason. They believe that well cared for circus animals are mistreated. Further, they believe that so strongly that any means to express their views is acceptable.

The people of Greenville County found out how strongly those extreme views are. PETA recently had activists, including someone dressed in an elephant costume, greeting little school kids at their bus stop. The PETA folks tried to hand out literature to the kids. WYFF reported that at least one parent stood up for the little kids and told them that as their parents told them not to talk to strangers, that they did not have to take something from the PETA people.

Indeed, what were the PETA people thinking? What gives them the right to address someone else’s child on a political issue when that child is vulnerable at a bus stop? How does someone come to think that type of act makes sense?

Well, it is simple. Far leftists like PETA activists think that the rest of us of are stupid. Their egos demand that they impose their views upon the rest of us no matter how creepy their tactics seem. The far left’s sense of superiority gives to them, in their minds, license to act against the civic norms we all accept.

Frankly put, political activists ought to leave little school kids alone. For that matter, the circus provided by Ringling Brothers is good family fun. Maybe that good clean family fun is really what the far left is after. Whatever their reasons, school kids ought to be left alone.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Sanfords do not define South Carolina

Soon to be former First Lady Jenny Sanford was interviewed by the famous Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20 Friday night, a day after Sanford's book about her life with Governor Mark Sanford was released. Unfortunately for South Carolina, the odd life of the Sanfords is the first thing that comes to mind about South Carolina from people around the nation and the world.

South Carolina was here before the Sanfords and South Carolina will be here after the Sanfords fade in the public memory. For that matter, neither Sanford is a native of South Carolina. The Governor is from Florida. The First Lady is from the Midwest. Yet, in most conversations with someone outside South Carolina, the Sanfords are asked about. Right or wrong, so many think of them when they think of South Carolina. Further, the Sanfords and their saga makes VUI long for the likes of Reagan, a man who loved his wife deeply and was thankful to have his job.

South Carolina has some blame. We elected Mark Sanford. Our legislative leaders decided to keep Sanford in office. But, South Carolina should not be defined by the Sanfords.

South Carolina is a great place to live and work. South Carolina has natural beauty that stretches from the beaches of Hilton Head Island to the top of Ceaser's Head Mountain. Frankly, South Carolina's natural beauty is as rich and diverse as any state's. If you doubt that, watch a sunrise at Dafuskie Island or a sunset over Jones Gap.

The people of South Carolina are rich and diverse as well in their values, work ethic and culture. Even among the pockets of poverty in the state, there is a sense of rich culture and tradition and family. Millions of South Carolinians get up every day, loyal to their mates, and working hard for a better life. History and stories of great people run deep in South Carolina.

South Carolina is a place in which people still say "hey" to one another at the grocery store or on the street. It is a place that has people who will stop and help you with a flat tire on the side of the road. It is a place where having the best barbecue is as important as making millions of dollars. It is a place were thousands of couples have the self respect to work out their problems or the end of their relationships privately.

South Carolina is also a place where businesses come knowing that a hard working people await. South Carolina gives more than its fair share to the services in defense of the United States and takes pride in that. Throughout the state, there are monuments to those who served our nation at courthouses.

Having had the opportunity to be in every town and city in South Carolina, and thousands of living rooms through my work over the years, I can say, without any reservation, that there is no better state to live in and no better people.

That is why I can say, to the nation and the world, that the Sanfords do not represent South Carolina and its people. Though the Sanford mess has saddened me in how it makes my home look to the rest of the world, I am proud to be from South Carolina because I know what South Carolina truly is. Though South Carolina has its problems, there is no place I would rather be or no people I would rather live around.

Remembering Reagan

Today is the 99th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the greatest President of our lifetimes. Historians are ranking Reagan higher and higher as time goes by. Despite what SC bloggers like Will Folks and his have to say about Reagan, calling him a "RINO" and things like that, Ronald Reagan saved the notion of freedom for the world. Reagan took office when the United States and freedom seemed doomed to lose to the Soviet Union and tyranny. Reagan believed otherwise, and led the nation to a great rebirth. Simply put, Ronald Reagan put America back on its feet and gave it the determination to stand tall again.

What VUI liked the most about Reagan was his humor and the way he could use his wit to disarm his opponents and even laugh at himself. That ability to laugh at one's self is something missing in politics today. Here is a video of Reagan's humor. VUI offers it in tribute to the greatest President of our time, and to a man who defined what being an American, and a Republican is.

Friday, February 05, 2010

State government problems are more about competence than structure

Far too many agencies in South Carolina state government are failing to perform at the level that the people ought to expect from them. Attention this week is upon the Employment Security Commission, but the problem persists throughout state government, within the Governor’s Cabinet and without.

There is no doubt that there is a problem with the Employment Security Commission. The ESC’s failure to timely pay withholding taxes is unacceptable, and members of the General Assembly calling for the resignations of the three commission members are correct. The explanation offered by the ESC that the employee in charge of such was new in the position is not acceptable. Further, the problems with the ESC have been around for months now. People that are entitled to benefits find them delayed. People who have never worked for a business have drawn benefits off the business that they never worked for.

Something must be done. However, restructuring the ESC without a demand for competence will not solve the problem. Placing an agency under the Governor does not magically make that agency work better or insure accountability. The hard work of demanding a culture of competence in state government must be done.

Take for example the Department of Social Services. Under the Governor’s appointed director, arrests were made for embezzlements that lost money that will never be recovered for the state under the Governor’s director. A child died in DSS custody due to a system breakdown in placement. Yet, even though the DSS is in the Governor’s Cabinet, no one demanded accountability. The Governor demanded no resignations. Indeed, the problems with the DSS do not even appear to be on the Governor’s political radar.

There is also the Department of Transportation, where the supposedly open Sanford Administration turned a blind eye to the fact its appointed Secretary of Transportation tried to get the DOT to give the company his son works for a no bid contract on a project. At the most recent DOT meeting, the lowest bidder was nearly 40 percent lower than the no bid contract attempted. Again, there were no demands for resignation or even accountability from the Governor, or even the General Assembly.

So, how are we the people to believe that the ESC will operate better if the General Assembly merely kicks it to the Governor’s office without working to create a culture of competence within the agency?

Top 9 books as interesting to read as Jenny Sanford's

9 ) ”The Secret Sex Life of Aardvarks”

8) “How to Turn Women Down" by Tiger Woods

7) "Making your Wife Feel Loved" by Mark Sanford

6) “Speaking Correctly and Concisely” by Vice President Joe Biden

5) “Be Proud to be a Dad” by John Edwards

4) “Stray Animals are People too” by Lt. Governor Andre Bauer

3) "A Pictorial of Elderly Sex Acts featuring Madonna and David Allen Coe."

2) “Living Sober” by actor Rip Torn

1) “Understanding the Retarded” by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel

Thursday, February 04, 2010

We remain at war

With everyone worried about the economy, the Super Bowl, and even Jenny Sanford’s tell all book, it is easy to forget that the United States is at war. Over 128,000 troops are serving in Iraq. Over 48,000 are serving in Afghanistan.

Those troops serving are real human beings. They have lives and families. Some have been deployed to their area of operation more than once. Their families serve with them as they endure long absences of their loved ones deployed.

President Obama and his Administration do not dwell upon those troops as former President Bush did. After all, candidate Obama promised an end to such things, but reality hit him hard when he became President of the United States. Troops deployed have actually increased in number since President Obama took office.

While President Obama’s actions in regards to troop levels are sound national security policy, they show the political weakness of candidate Obama. Thus, the Obama Administration has shifted the conversation elsewhere. Perhaps that is practical politics. But, the glaring fact that the United States is still at war remains.

So VUI asks you to do a simple thing. As you are making preparations to watch the Super Bowl this weekend, take a moment to pray for those folks who are fighting for your right to watch that Super Bowl in peace. Tens of thousands of American young men and women are still standing and fighting for freedom thousands of miles away. They are fighting in a war that it is waning in political popularity, but still remains essential to protecting the freedoms we all enjoy.

President Obama gets the fight we are in, and has kept the course, by and large, President George W. Bush set. Regardless of how we feel about the President’s domestic agenda, we need to support him and our troops as they keep the fight against Islamic fascism alive.

Regardless of political party, America stands for freedom. President Obama is correct to keep up the battle against terror. We should all pause and honor those troops that are on the tip of freedom’s spear. Thank you troops, for the job you do. Thank you to soldier families, for your sacrifice and dedication. Some of us remember we are still at war.

We don't give a damn about your sex life

The debate about the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in regards to homosexuals serving in the military is heating up in the Congress. Both sides have their points. However, something that is missing is the notion that most of us really do not want to hear about other people’s sex lives.

To VUI, some gay guy who comes in talking Monday morning about his gay sex life is on the same level as the family man who brags about what he done with his wife or the single guy who talked about the latest girl he picked up at some bar. Frankly, we do not care. We do not want to hear about it. Frankly put, most Americans do not care to hear about your sex life unless they are sexually involved with you. The rest of us give less than a damn.

Frankly, most of us do not want to hear about your sex life at our drinking holes, much less at work. A few months ago, at a drinking establishment, a recently divorced guy came in. He bragged about what his latest date did to him and he did to her. Most tried to ignore him. But, one old guy listened attentively, and then when the recently single man was finished, the old guy took a swig from his bourbon and said, “Well, I see why your wife left you now, you got no class.”

That old guy sort of summed it up. If you have to talk about your personal sex life to everyone you have no class. You have no respect for yourself or your sexual partners. Most folks with any sense of dignity do not talk about what they do in the bedroom, period. That is a private matter.

Some gays find that stand offensive. They want to be in someone’s face about their homosexuality. What they fail to realize is that most of us don’t care to hear about it. We also don’t care about the straight guy who does cocktail waitresses two at time. It is arrogant to think your sex life really matters to the rest of us.

Try this policy on for size. Keep your private sexual life to yourself. Just do your damn job. Keep the conversation at work and even at the bar to non sexual things. If you can do your job, and make some sense talking about politics or sports, stick to that. VUI does not care what you do in your bedroom. We just do not want to hear about it. Whether you just had sex with some guy down the street or the cheerleader from high school you always dreamed about, we don’t care. Again, just keep it to yourself.

People talk about freedom and the freedom to be who they are. So be it. But the rest of us have the freedom to not hear about your sex life. Trust VUI, most people don’t give a damn who you are having sex with. Most people, especially in the workplace, worry about getting things done. People, straight or gay, who dwell upon their sex lives, just get in the way of that.

Even in this internet age, one’s sex life ought to remain private. If you want to talk about sex, go to a porn website and enjoy yourself. But, please, spare your fellow workers and even fellow bar drinkers of what you are doing. As said before, most of us don’t give a damn. Besides, the more you talk, the less most of us believe you.

It's our job to clean up the local government mess in SC

Every week there seems to be a new local government scandal in South Carolina. From the coast to the upstate, it seems more and more local officials are involved in scandal. The latest scandal involves now former Spartanburg County Clerk of Court Marc Kitchens. Kitchens resigned Wednesday after being arrested. Kitchens is accused of conspiring with a Spartanburg County real estate developer to sell drugs removed from the evidence room of the Spartanburg County Courthouse.

Kitchens’s acts are about as bright as those of Union County officials, who have paraded before the courts in recent weeks after the scandal that rocked most of the local leaders in one of Spartanburg’s neighboring counties.

Frankly, the problem is all throughout South Carolina. If officials are not acting downright corrupt, they are spending money on things that do not matter or benefit their circle of friends. They are increasing their own terms of office by a year. They are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars “investigating” one another. They are running up local government credit cards without concrete reasons. All the while, telling residents that essential services might have to be cut due to the economy and telling local government employees to take furloughs.

In sum, local governments in South Carolina are out of control. Take for example the historic property tax relief passed by the SC General Assembly back in 1998. That act was supposed to give local governments the money to give property owners tax relief. However, 12 years later, the tax amounts are the same or higher in real dollars in most locations as they were before tax relief. Indeed, in the past twelve years, there has been an explosion in local government spending, even with “conservatives” elected. The subsidy from the state, added to the revenues from local taxpayers makes that possible.

The people themselves share the blame. There is a disconnection between the voters and the local governments that affect their lives so. Most people know who their Congressman is. Far fewer can name their town council member or county council member. On the countywide level, most know who the Sheriff is, but far fewer know who the other elected county officials are. Even fewer voters cast informed votes for those officials.

Adding to the problem is the way the media covers politics. We live in a mass media age. When elections are run, the media focuses its attention on the larger races that get the attention across its market. That’s good business, but it does not help people to pay attention to the races that in their backyards.

When a scandal hits a local government, the local people are shocked. But, they shouldn’t be. For years now, South Carolinians by and large, and their media, have ignored local governments. Over the past ten years, the power and spending of those local governments over people’s lives have grown tremendously. Personal and petty decisions, and tax increases are allowed to stand because so many just are not paying attention. Some people might fear retribution. Some people might fear arguing with their neighbors. Most are uniformed of what local governments are doing.

Hopefully, the silver lining to the rash of local government scandals throughout South Carolina will be that the people and the media start paying closer attention to what local governments are up to. Make no mistake; there is an atmosphere in local government in which those who have been caught in scandals thought that their behavior would be overlooked. There is an atmosphere in which those who spend money on personal vendettas think no one will notice. There is an atmosphere in which those who raise taxes and fees, and even extend their own terms of office in non published meetings believe such will be unnoticed.

That is where we, the people, come in. We have the duty to do our local government officials the favor of creating an atmosphere in which scandal, pettiness and overreaching is unacceptable. We can do that by being informed, voicing informed opinions, and casting informed votes. In a system like ours, cleaning up the mess ultimately rests with us, the people.

Censuring the notorious Earl Capps

After a gut wrenching staff session, reading the blog Fits News for Now, and other stuff, VUI has decided to give fellow blogger Earl Capps a very special birthday present in the spirit of the Charleston County Republican Party: a censure.

Be it resolved that as Earl Capps has a well read RINO blog that is the mouthpiece of the General Assembly; that Capps sports a pony tail in politics without apology; that Capps promoted his own birthday on his blog; that Capps attacked VUI once with a cheesy video; that Capps allegedly attends 80s metal band concerts in search of 40 year old women with big hair; that Capps has the audacity to try to compete with the self legendary Will Folks; that Capps dissed the infamous Working Mom not once but twice; that Capps refused to drink the koolaid Mark Sanford offered him; that Capps refused to hire Obama Man; that Capps had the audacity to win elections that he ran without checking first with the big three consultants; that Capps does not attend Gamecock football games; that Capps actually knows Mike Reino; that Capps actually worked for Republican campaigns before Howard Rich came along including for that RINO Ronald Reagan; that Capps does RINO things like being an adjunct professor at some sissy college that wants people to learn; that Capps has been seen in a bar near Summerville; that Capps committed other notorious offenses to those who are the self professed rulers of South Carolina; that Voting Under the influence, with the power vested to it by a few folks drinking in a barn, does hereby and forever censure Earl Capps for being an longhaired, outlaw blogger devoted to RINO politics and heavy metal music.

Be it also resolved, by Voting Under the Influence, with the power vested to it by a few folks drinking in a barn, to extend greetings to Earl Capps for a Happy Birthday along with this censure.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Will Obama reverse "Don't Fart. Don't Smell?"

Throughout the federal government, countless employee hours of productivity were lost over the years due to the passing of gas by some employees and the response to that gas passing by others.

Some government employee bragged about their gas passing abilities, proudly taking time to “claim” the odors that stunk up the office. Other employees reacted badly to the smell of others gas passing, doing things like hold their noses, shake their heads, and leave the room entirely.

Such acts led to the Clinton Administration order of “Don’t fart. Don’t smell.” Under that policy, an employee is encouraged to go the restroom if a gas event is coming on. If that gas event occurs before that employee reaches the restroom, the employee is to act as if did not happen. They simply cannot claim the fart. Further, other employees surrounding him are to act as if they cannot smell the gas event. No gestures of nose pinching, fake gagging or fanning are allowed. No remarks about the smell are allowed.

The federal government contends that the “Don’t fart, don’t smell,” policy has worked well over the past 15 years, saving thousands of employee work hours. However, gas passing rights activists think that the rule discriminates against gas passers, who in their words “cannot help themselves.” They find offense in the very name of the policy, saying that “fart” is a hateful word, and that “gas passing” is the correct term to use.

One federal employee put it this way to VUI, “Don’t Fart, don’t tell destroys my self esteem. I am proud of my ability to pass gas. I want to brag on it, not be ashamed of it and forced to not say anything when I rip off a good one.”

Other federal employees feel differently. As one told VUI, “I come here to work, not to smell other people’s gas events. It is bad enough I have to ignore farters. But, there is something against God that has to make me sit silently why the farters brag about their farts.”

Gas passing rights activist Bran Nobeano told VUI that comments like the latter, “were indicative of the discrimination gas passers face every day and are cruel and insensitive.” Nobeano went on to say, “we had hoped for a change under President Obama but so far all we have received from him is hot air.”

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Someone out there has to be thinking about getting in the Lt. Governor's race

Reports are Tim Scott will run for Congress instead of Lt. Governor, leaving Florence County Council member Ken Ard and Orangeburg businessman Bill Conner as the only two GOP candidates for Lt. Governor.

While there is little to indicate that both Ard and Conner are not good men, the field seems ripe for a latecomer. Frankly, the Lt. Governor's race sports a strikingly weak field historically. If the field remains the same, it will be the first time that the Republican Party had a primary field for Lt. Governor without a member of the General Assembly or an incumbent since 1986. That year, the Republicans nominated Tommy Hartnett, then a United States Congressman. Hartnett's nomination was part of the "Campbell-Hartnett" dream ticket that led to Campbell becoming Governor and Democratic State Senator Nick Theodore becoming Lt. Governor.

In other words,the race for Lt. Governor is wide open. As such, do not be shocked if someone running for another office decides to run for Lt. Governor, or if some state senator jumps in.

Jumping into the Lt. Governor's race is something that a candidate for Governor like Nikki Haley should consider. Such is a difficult move to make at this point, but Haley would go from likely spoiler in the Governor's race to the front runner in the Lt. Governor's race. There are probably several state senators who see that possibility for themselves, if they are willing to move to Lt. Governor's chair.

As it stands, the field for Lt. Governor is historically weak. Little attention is being paid to the race. An ambitious candidate willing to roll the dice and work hard could win the job out of what is considered nowhere. It is going to be interesting to watch.

Ahmadinejad throwing a tantrum again

With the world being worried about Haitian earthquake relief and actually working to together to provide such, Iran's nut-in-chief has felt neglected. Add to that the fact that opposition in Iran to his failed regime continues to grow, and well Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just isn't feeling the love.

Don't fear, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not be ignored and knocked off the front pages. Ahmadinejad is threatening to humiliate the world powers on February 11th, the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. February 11th is also the day Iranian opposition plan to have protests in Iran.

While the world takes the nut-in-chief seriously, Ahmadinejad huffs and puffs out of desperation in holding his regime together within. Blustering with the United States and Israel is the only way he can continue to hold power.

Ahmadinejad's blustering is from a position of weakness, not strength. That makes the nut-in-chief dangerous. Ahmadinejad is a throwback to the days when fear and terror ruled humanity. He and terrorists like him have a completely different view of the world than the West does. While Western ideals speak of tolerance and debate, Ahmadinejad and his type paper over their weakness with threats and sneaky violence. They appear to not have the strength within to have mercy or much reason.

Pandering to Ahmadinejad's tantrums will only make things worse. Evetually, the world faces a choice. Do we allow someone to bully the more tolerant and reasonable or do we draw the line, and say no more from this throwback from history's darker days?