Tuesday, March 30, 2010

God, violence and politics

Though it is only Tuesday, the week between Passover and Easter is proving to be one ripe with religious violence. First, there was the Islamic terrorist attack on Moscow commuters. Russians were simply trying to get to work when they were attacked by Muslim extremists with bombs packed with bits of metal to make human beings suffer.

Then, in the United States, news came of out of Michigan of the federal authorities busting up a plot by the extreme group Hutaree. According to published reports, the Hutaree group twisted the Bible to inspire a plot against police officers. Allegedly, the group planned to fake a 911 call, kill a police officer, and then bomb that police officer’s funeral to kill more police officers. All of that, of course, was to be done in God’s name.

The Islamic extremists who attacked innocent Russians are evil. Those who plot to kill police officers in the name of Christ are evil. No one who kills innocent people in the name of God does so for God. They are tools of evil. They are nuts.

However, there is something politically to note. The American left has a double standard when it comes to evil people who hide behind God. The left blogs and activists are hot about the Michigan group, quick to label them as “Christian” and blame the conservatives in the nation for it. Some liberal bloggers even blame Republicans and commentators like Glenn Beck for the Hutaree group’s demented plan.

But, when it comes to calling Islamic extremists for what they are in regards to the killing of innocent Russians, the left is almost silent. President Obama condemned the attacks, but he did not hint at the religious nature of them. Liberal bloggers and commentators run from the word “Muslim” in regards to the attacks and instead describe the terrorists as “separatists.” They further fail to note in most of their remarks that the leader of the “separatists” in Russia is a man named Doku Umarov. Umarov is a man who wants a Russian Islamic emirate and encouraged Muslims to kill innocent people in Russian cities. Umarov wants Islamic law to rule, and under that law many of the liberals in America would be put to death.

So, why does the American left pay so much attention to a handful of religious nuts in Michigan and virtually ignore the Islamic extremists who actually kill people and want to kill them? It is a combination of the liberal logic and pure politics. The liberal logic dictates that liberals embrace nonsense as long as nonsense does not conform to what has been generally accepted as reasonable. The pure politics part is that, to the properly indoctrinated liberal, the conservative movement and the Republican Party must be maligned and destroyed by any means possible. To the properly indoctrinated liberal, politics is their God. And, for that God, all must be done.

Thus, a situation is created in which those of us with common sense see both the people who claim to be Muslims who kill innocent people and the people who claim to be Christians who plot to kill police officers both as bad people, while the left is filled with commentators who ignore the former and dwell on the latter in order to serve the left’s religion: pure politics.

Monday, March 29, 2010

From the staff: Top 9 things about chemo

9. Chemotherapy, come on! Is this best we can do medically speaking?

8. Cancer! It sucks, big time! And, almost as bad as our current Congress.

7. Guts! People say, I must have a lot of them. Must be true, I seem to puke them out quite alot.

6. Apple sauce is a good comfort food, when first getting over the after effects of chemotherapy. After third week of chemo, scratch that, now I can't stand the stuff. O.K., you just have to find stuff that doesn't make you gag; after seeing it, smelling it or tasting it. Uckk!

5. Oh, I don't mind losing my hair, because there is no pain involved with that process.

4. Sorry, pale is my new color.

3. How is possible to have constipation and diarrhea all in the same day, and at the same time (setting).

2. No, I'm not hungover, but I sure feel like it!

1. O.K., I get it! If I don't take it, I will surely die!

Run for re-election, Gresham

Gresham Barrett has two days or so to do the right thing. Though Barrett has spent the past year or so running for Governor, people in the Third Congressional District need him to stay on the job.

Congressman Barrett has done a solid job for the people of the Third Congressional District in the United States Congress. But, let's face reality. Barring some unforeseen changes to the race, Barrett, however qualified, is not going to be the nominee for Governor. The race will be decided by voters on the coast and in the midlands, not in the Third Congressional District. If Barrett runs for Governor, he loses, and the people lose his voice.

If Barrett checks his gubernatorial ambitions and runs for re-election to Congress, he would win in a walk. The field to replace him is, as an old great uncle of mine stated once, a fight between piss ants to get the better piece of the watermelon rind.

Good men are running for the Third Congressional District seat. Rex Rice and Jeff Duncan are current SC House members seeking the post. The list of others makes one think that his dentist might file next. Frankly put, the field is filled with sincere candidates who are politically weak. The winner will have no major traction and will likely face a tough race two years from now.

Barrett, on the other hand, is an experienced conservative hand in Washington. Like him or not as a gubernatorial candidate, Barrett has a proven record as a conservative Congressman. Gresham Barrett is a proven leader for conservatism in the US House.

That is why VUI encourages Gresham Barrett to give up the Governor's race and instead run for re-election. The people of the Third Congressional District need a conservative leader like Barrett representing them in Congress. Barrett will not be Governor. That assessment is sad, but true. But, Barrett can continue to serve by running for re-election to his seat in Congress and by doing so spare the people of the Third Congressional District of two years of a weak member of Congress.

Chances are VUI's advice will be ignored. Barrett will run for Governor and lose. The people of the Third Congressional District will end up with their dentist or some state representative that they have never heard as their Congressman. The only thing worse would be having Bob Inglis as our Congressman.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The GOP Lt. Governor's race

As stated before the striking thing about the GOP race for Lt. Governor is the lack of heavyweight contenders. Typically, there is as at least one legislative or otherwise political heavyweight in the field for the office. In 1986, the Republican nominee was Congressman Tommy Hartnett. In 1990, the Republican nominee was former U.S. Attorney Henry McMaster. Hartnett lost to long time state senator Nick Theodore. Lt. Governor Theodore defeated McMaster in 1990.

In 1994, Bob Peeler, Chairman of the State Board of Education, defeated former Congressional candidate Henry Jordan and longtime Republican House member Howell Clyburn for the GOP nomination. Peeler then went on to defeat former Congresswoman Liz Patterson in the general election. Four years later, Lt. Governor Peeler would defeat former Lt. Governor Theodore.

In 2002, state senator Andre Bauer defeated state senator David Thomas for the GOP nomination, and won the Lt. Governor’s office by defeating state senator Phil Leventis. The 2002 election was the last year of known political heavyweights getting into the Lt. Governor’s race.

The 2006 election ended nearly 100 years of political heavyweights challenging for the Lt. Governor’s office. Lt. Governor Bauer defeated two restaurant owners on his way to re-election. The first was Mike Campbell, a political novice whose greatest asset was being the son of former Governor Carroll Campbell. The second was the Democratic nominee, Robert Barber. The election was known more for Lt. Governor Bauer surviving an airplane crash and Barber losing his lowcountry restaurant to fire than any great political debate.

Perhaps the 2006 election set up the situation in 2010. In the GOP field, there is Florence County Councilman Ken Ard, retired Army Lt. Colonel Bill Connor and longtime former Judge Larry Richter. All three men have accomplished lives, but they do not have the historic resumes candidates for Lt. Governor have had for the past century or so.

However, those three are the GOP field. As such, here is how VUI sees the field as of late March. Ard has the advantage, for now. Ard has worked the grassroots hard that are necessary to win a down ballot race. Connor, good man that he is, seems not to have gained any traction.

That leaves Larry Richter. Richter has an impressive resume, some personal money to pump in, and some personal baggage. However, the race seems to be now between Ard’s personal touch in grassroots campaigning against Richter’s money and lowcountry connections. Connor seems to be relegated to the role of spoiler.

That said, the Lt. Governor’s race is fluid. With voter and political activist interest so low and the candidates all relatively unknown, the field could shift. There is a lot of hard work left to be done for the campaign that claims the nomination in June. But, when forced to call it, VUI says it is between Ard and Richter, and it is going to be one helluva race.

Getting back to blogging

The past week or so has been one of those that have been time demanding for the VUI staff. One of the disadvantages of not being paid to blog for a living is having to earn a living doing something else. Add to that VUI's second in command dealing with chemotherapy and well, there have been a few days without posting.

But, that is about to change. Things are going to pick up again to the previous pace this week. Thanks for reading and we hope to inform and entertain on a daily basis again starting Sunday.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Carroll Campbell's dead and I don't feel so good myself

There was yet another debate for Governor of South Carolina on Tuesday night. The debate was held on the campus of Winthrop University. Absent Republican Gresham Barrett, the six other candidates for Governor in both major parties were present.

It was a typical affair. The answers could be predicted by each candidate easily before hand, with the exception of Democrat Robert Ford. That guy speaks is mind. The rest are "handled."

Not that there is especially anything wrong with a candidate being "handled." It just shows there is no true "great" politician on the stage for Governor.

That is a product of this political time in South Carolina. As filing for office is at the halfway point, enthusiasm for campaigning, supporting a candidate and for running for office are at a low. Candidates in both parties are having a hard time raising money and getting grassroots support. Of course there are exceptions like the tea party folks, but their power dissipates when it comes to actual campaigns.

Some blame the economy on the lack of money and enthusiasm. The economy certainly has its role. However, over the past eight years in South Carolina, especially in the Republican party, politics has been hijacked.

From the local to the statewide level, a group of well funded, unethical loudmouths have taken over the conversation. Checks from outside South Carolina flow in to fund special interest groups created just to viscerally attack any candidate who does not support their pet issue exactly as they are told to. Bloggers are paid to attack personally and pettily any candidate or commentator who fails to walk lock step with the money. Others sue people involved in politics for their stands and otherwise harass them. Even when people leave politics, they are kicked on the way out the door, usually in a sophomoric fashioned.

Take the retirement of Annette Young, for example. Rep. Young was the first Republican Majority Leader since Reconstruction. How did South Carolina's supposedly leading "conservative" blogger treat the retirement? By taking a cheap shot at Young about her love of scotch whiskey.

Now, Folks and the people around him probably thought their post was brilliant. But, what it truly is is an example of how our political discourse has slipped. Both parties seem to have slipped into an idiocracy instead of a democracy. In that idiocracy, a cute comment, true or not, is more respected than a well thought idea. Party and coalition building is second to making sure the purity tests set by big donors are passed. The smart and experienced are ridiculed for thinking. The ignorant and inexperienced are praised for embracing the guru's ideas.

That said, is there any doubt why South Carolina is in the trouble it is in? Is their any doubt why talented and decent people decline to donate to campaigns, work on campaigns, or run for office? Indeed, South Carolina is a far cry from where it was in January of 1995, when Carroll Campbell left office. Fifteen years later, Governor Campbell is dead, I don't feel so good myself and some billionaire from New York and his puppets have joined the far left liberals in making politics in South Carolina seem slimy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The President got what he wanted, but does America want it?

The President of the United States and the Democratic leadership in the United States House got what they wanted late Sunday night. By a vote of 219-212, the so called health care reform bill, championed by the President and virtually written by big lobbyists was passed.

The bill was unprecedented. The President of the United States cancelled foreign trips and even went to the Capitol on Saturday to push the bill. President Obama staked his credibility on the passage of the bill. The President got the passage, but at what cost?

The bill, despite the sunshine and light statement of the President after its passage, does not give his core supporters what they want. The bill also flies in the face of the right’s interpretation of the constitution. Frankly, over the next few days and weeks, the members of Congress who voted for the bill will finally find out what was in the bill that they voted for. Lawyers stand ready to litigate on behalf of states and individuals.

Perhaps never before in American history has a bill that so effected so many Americans been passed in a strictly partisan fashion without consideration of future litigation and the like. The President wanted it above all else, and he got it.

But, just what did the President get? The President got a bill that seems to be written by health care insurance lobbyists. Even Presidential supporters like Professor Cornel West talk of how the President “cut a deal” with big insurance. With the side deals to members of Congress and goodies for the insurance companies, without addressing the real costs factors of health care, the President got a bill that the American people did not want and frankly will not do what the President contends it will.

Assuming that the President is an honorable man and actually believes in the bill that was passed, it appears that President Obama is incredibly weak. That weakness was symbolic on Saturday, when President Obama was treated as if he was just some Congressional leader at the press appearance on Capitol Hill. The President even spoke from a lectern that donned the seal of Congress, not his own seal.

Indeed, with the way the President cancelled his trip, and played the part of the salesman on Capitol Hill, it seems that on the issue of health care that the Democratic leaders of the legislative branch, and the lobbyists who line their pockets, rule the day. Now, it rests with the judicial branch to defend the American people from this seemingly unconstitutional violation of the American people’s lives.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Top 9 signs your marriage could be in trouble

9) The briefs in your underwear drawer do not fit.

8) You spouse needs a few days “incommunicado” in a South American country to find his or herself.

7) There are voice messages on your home phone from some guy who calls himself “The Worm.”

6) The UPS man comes by your house every day but never leaves a package.

5) You discover a multi thousand dollar charge to your credit card from some Asian “spa.”

4) You find yourself living in the same house with your spouse and his or her ex.

3) Your spouse tells you that all good Christians need help from “Brother Cubby” and the C Street Ministry.

2) You are contacted by some talk show host to find out who is the real baby daddy.

1) Suddenly your spouse has “plans” that they tell you are private and personal.

Obama double downs on health care bill

President Barack Obama now appears to be staking his Presidency on the health care reform bill before Congress. This time last week, the President postponed his trip to Indonesia and Australia a few days. Now, as the health care bill drags on, the President is cancelling the trip and planning to make it in June instead.

By putting off the trip so, the President is going against the conventional wisdom that effective Presidents do not let one bill or one issue bog them down. The trip to the Pacific was very important for long term United States interests. As Chinese influence grows in the region, it is essential that the President shore up old relationships and build new ones to counter the Chinese influence. Of course, diplomatic manners will prevent such from being said, but reality dictates that the world will see President Obama as weak.

Here is why the President will appear weak. If a President of the United States has to exit a planned appearance on the world stage to herd votes for a Congressional bill, it is perceived as weak. That perception of weakness is increased when both houses of the Congress are under the control of the President's party. If the health care bill passes, the President still loses credibility on the world stage. If the health care bill fails to pass, it will, as Jim DeMint put it, be the "Waterloo" of the Obama Presidency.

What has to be frustrating to Obama supporters is that the President should have avoided this situation. The President should have realized that he is bigger than the any one bill before Congress and made his trip to the Pacific without delay.

Air Force One has the communications technology to enable the President to contact any wavering Congressman on any bill. Indeed, it is hard to understand how Congressional Democratic leaders and the people around the President think that a call from the President of the United States aboard Air Force One is somehow less impressive than a call from the Oval Office.

Even harder to understand is why the Obama people are doubling down again on the health care bill. Perhaps the President wants to stake it all on a flawed bill even liberals do not like. Whatever the reason, the President and his people are not practicing the smart politics that got the President elected. The President should have made his trip, called wavering Congressman from Air Force One, and went on with other business.

By doing that, if the health care bill failed, the President could still be seen as doing the larger job of the Presidency and his political life would live to fight for the health care ideas he has another day. Now, the President has staked everything on the flawed bill. Even the bill's passage seems like a Pyrrhic victory now for the President. The President seems to have to cow to the Senator from Nebraska or the Senator from Louisiana or the Congresswoman from California.

The President of the United States should not cow to anyone. Indeed, it seems that the President and the people around him still act as if the President was a still a Senator. A Senator can be passionate, to a fault, about one issue. The President of the United States has to address all the issues. The President can not be tied down to one issue and he certainly can not shirk his role on the world stage for something such as a Congressional vote. Throughout history successful Presidents backed off being trapped by one bill or issue and focused on the larger job. Unsuccessful Presidents failed to do so and doubled down on on a bill or issue as President Obama is now doing. Frankly put, President Obama's double down on health care is a gamble in which he can not win. For even he wins the Congressional votes, the price he paid for it far outweighs the benefit.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The real "March Madness" is in the US House

Today is the kickoff to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, dubbed “March Madness.” While there is going to be some enjoyable and wild games in the coming tournament, the real “March Madness” is found in the Democratic leadership of the United States House of Representatives in regards to the health care bill.

The madness comes in the form of the widely reported “Slaughter Solution” being considered by the leadership of the House. As the Democratic leadership struggles to find Democratic votes in the House to pass the health care reform bill advocated by the President, Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, Chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, has came up with a way to get around a House vote on the Senate health care bill. The so called “Slaughter Solution” will be a rule maneuver in the House to allow the House to deem the Senate health care bill as already passed when the House votes on proposed changes. In other words, the Obama health care package is passed without a true final House vote.

That gives the House Democratic leadership a pass on getting votes for the legislation that seem in doubt. If they were not in doubt, the House Democratic leadership would have already called for a roll call vote, so that President Obama could get on with his Asian trip.

Perhaps it is the fate of the Obama Presidency that seems to be on the line that inspires the Democratic leadership to such legislative legerdemain. Whatever the reason, and whatever position one takes on the health care bill in question, there is something just mad and frankly un-American about the Democratic House leadership using legislative tricks to pass such a huge bill.

The matter will surely end up in the federal courts. However, the more pressing court of the people should matter more. If legislative legerdemain is used to pass the health care bill, the people’s house will become the conniver’s house. For if the health care bill is so good for the people, why don’t the Democrats in the House demand the chance to proudly cast their votes for it? What in the health care bill worries them so that they consider hiding behind the political sleight of hand in the form of the Slaughter Solution? Perhaps they are mad or afraid or both. Whatever the Democratic House leadership’s motivation or state mind, such legislative tricks are wrong and further erode the confidence that the people have in the institution of the Congress.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In support of the South Carolina Highway Patrol

The troopers of the South Carolina Highway Patrol are facing severe budget cuts from the South Carolina General Assembly. As typical with the South Carolina General Assembly today in tough times, it chooses to cut necessary services just as much as unnecessary ones.

There is a certain level of irony to the situation. The General Assembly, because of its lack of courage to tackle unnecessary government programs, makes cuts across the board that effects men and women who have the courage to walk up to a car all alone at 3AM on Interstate 95. Of course, other state government workers who have the courage to work in other essential programs have the right to feel the same way as state troopers do.

Outraging is the “anonymous” comments on various news websites and blogs that seems a bit planned. People, hiding behind anonymous names, criticize the state troopers for pulling over average people and enforcing seatbelt laws of all things, as one commenter said, “to get money for bureaucrats.” To those people, lying off freshman state troopers and cutting back state trooper training and patrols is a good thing.

Fair enough to those folks with that point of view. No one likes to get a ticket. Everyone who gets one wants to think there as something wrong done to them when they got the ticket. But, the truth is that we need our state troopers. We need to them to have the people and resources to get their job done. By and large, state troopers are dedicated public servants, who do the often thankless job of walking up to that car with Florida plates at 3AM on the interstate, dutifully investigating a tragic accident or offering assistance to a distressed motorist.

Indeed, for those who think that the General Assembly is right to cut the Highway Patrol and keep things like the Department of Commerce running at relatively full pace, think on this. On some late night on some lonely road, you or your mother or wife or daughter calls for help. While you, your mother, your wife or your daughter are there on the side of that lonely road, the most welcomed sight will be the arrival of the state trooper’s patrol car. How long it takes for that car to arrive and how well trained that state trooper is depends on the support the General Assembly gives the Highway Patrol.

As for VUI, we want that trooper to have the full support of the General Assembly and we want the General Assembly to have the courage to prioritize the budget process and make sure that first things, like public safety, get funded first.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Top 9 things a census worker should not say to you or ask of you

The 2010 Census is upon us. There has been some criticism about how the Obama Administration chose workers for the Census and there are questions about what Census workers can say to and ask of the public. Some say this Census is going to be "ACORN style." As a public service, VUI offers this TOP 9 things that a Census worker should not say to you or ask you about.

9) There is a $20 cash fee needed to make sure that your answers are filed properly with the government.

8) How many times have you had sex this month? I see. That's below the national average. But, don't worry, I can help you with that.

7) I see you have a new computer, and a HD TV. When are the people in your household normally not at home?

6) Now, sir, I need your social security number, your credit card numbers and the passwords you have on any bank accounts. It is for the government to help you.

5) Look bitch, stop worrying about the bandanna on my head and on the heads of my associates. We are sanctioned by the government. What you better be worried about is we know where you live.

4) You have high speed internet? Cool. I need to use your computer for a few minutes to download some porn, I mean important government documents to my thumb drive.

3) What do you mean you don't have $20. This is important government business. I will do you a favor and take that tv you got.

2) Mam, I know you say those are real, but the government requires me to hold and squeeze them to make sure.

1) Can you give me the names of any friends or neighbors that ever speak against President Obama? Do you know of anyone that makes fun of Mrs. Obama or Nancy Pelosi? Oh my God, I just noticed you have Sarah Palin's book in your home. Do you have a lawyer? Have you seen a doctor?

IQ proposal shot down

In a year in which the South Carolina General Assembly seems preoccupied with things such as making sure that people pay for an eye exam before they renew their driver’s licenses, young people cannot get tattoos, and that text messaging must be banned while driving, it is little wonder that the unheard of Coalition for Common Sense and Basic Intelligence is proposing that there be minimum I.Q. requirements for the members of the General Assembly. After all, the South Carolina General Assembly seems inept on real problems and all too eager to fight for nothing.

According to the coalition, their plan calls for all candidates for the South Carolina General Assembly take an I.Q. test. Any candidate with an I.Q. below 80 would be disqualified from serving in the General Assembly. As one member of the coalition told VUI, “I mean, come on, be real. You cannot mow the lawn if your I.Q. is below 80, so why should we turn over state government to you? These guys are more worried about Jessica Simpson’s sex stories instead of the budget or the mess in the ESC and DSS. Give ‘em women and beer and they don’t care. ”

Both political parties in South Carolina have reacted strongly against the proposal. One Democrat told VUI, “This is racist and against poor people. Everyone knows that tests of basic intelligence are biased in favor of rich white Republicans. Street smarts ought to be tested, not damn book learning. Who reads books today anyway? It is insulting to me and my President.”

Republicans are angry as well. One Republican told VUI, “This is an attempt by liberal homosexual academic types to hijack the will of the people and take away our freedom, our guns, and sleep with our brothers and sons. If you support this, you support gays having sex on the confederate flag.”

A self proclaimed lobbyist had this to say, “If you make the members of the General Assembly smarter, than it hurts me because I have to spend more money on booze and food. I mean, I would have to get a smart person pretty damn drunk to buy into some of the stuff I get done now. Now, that cost is going to be passed on to the consumers of products out there. You really want to hurt the economy right now?”

A veteran of South Carolina politics dubbed the proposal "a disaster." He went on to say, " If we make IQ a requirement, half the House would have to resign. This is South Carolina, you think we got a bunch of nerds out there that can be elected? It can not work. You nerds blog. The rest of us get elected. "

When VUI contacted the source within the coalition about the above remarks, VUI found out that the source had learned of the reaction to the proposal and was in the middle of relocating to New Zealand. That news led to jubilation by both major parties in South Carolina and the lobbyists who influence them. “Thank God and the constitution,” a Republican said.

“The community is unified in celebrating the end to this bigotry,” a Democrat said.

“Hey buddy, have a drink” the lobbyist contact told us.

After that, it just seemed pointless for VUI to chase down the rumors about Henry McMaster’s eyesight and Andre Bauer’s texting habits. And, we don’t care how old Haley and Sheheen were when that got those tattoos. When we think of the state of politics in South Carolina and the lack of common sense in it, we will take that drink and laugh, like you ought to.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Barrett was wrong to take the bait

State Representative Nikki Haley and her allies made the move VUI predicted against Congressman Gresham Barrett by running clever ads attacking Barrett's record in Congress. As stated before, VUI believes that Haley sees Barrett as her main opposition in gaining a runoff spot.

That said, Congressman Barrett has sparked some controversy in recent media reports about his own ads. Barrett has issued ads defending his record in Congress using funds Barrett had left over in his Congressional campaign account. The ads in question fired up Barrett critics and got the media asking whether or not it is right for Barrett to run such ads with Congressional campaign account money when Barrett is running for Governor.

Frankly, such a question misses the bigger issue. Is Barrett right or wrong in what he is doing legally or ethically? Who knows? The bigger point is Barrett is spending resources and defining himself on the Haley camp's terms. Put plainly, the Barret camp is dancing to the tune the Haley camp is playing.

Before all of you Barrett supporters get set to blast off nasty comments or emails about such an assertion, read the rest of this post and think a minute. After the last Gubernatorial debate, Gresham Barrett walked of the stage the clear winner. Barrett talked about state issues and jobs and seemed more like a Governor than anyone else on the stage. VUI dubbed Barrett's performance "refreshing."

Then, came the attack ads against him from allies of the Haley camp. After those ads, the Barrett camp chose to define Barrett with ads suitable for a re-election campaign to a Congressional seat. State issues were lost. Worse, Gresham Barrett appeared to be reactive to the candidate in last place in all the current polls instead of challenging the front runner on state issues.

Indeed, it seems as if Barrett lost his sense of mission in the last debate and became a candidate who lets someone else define the discussion. That drift is much more important than whether or not the ads are "right" to do.

If Barrett is going to drop out of the race for Governor and run for re-election against the relatively weak field seeking to replace him, then the ads being ran by his operation are smart. But, if Barrett means to be Governor, then he needs to drop the ads he has up now and go back to talking about state issues and aim for McMaster and stop letting the Haley operation dictate his course. The Haley crowd is defining the Barrett campaign now. To become Governor, Barrett has to take control of the debate back. Millions spent on Congressional re-election type ads will not do that. Indeed, all the Barrett team is doing is playing into the hands of Haley. A Governor has to see such things coming. It appears Barrett did not. Instead, Congressman Barrett took the bait hook, line and sinker and now he is hooked into the discussion Haley wants.

Now is a time for faith

The United States is in difficult times. Everyone from Tea Party activists to the President of the United States tell us how bad things are. Both of them feed off one another, telling us to greater degrees how bad things are and how bad things are going to get. The media quickly puts a microphone in front of whomever seems angry, lost, frustrated or defeated.

Frankly, things are frustrating. Local governments, like the county government in Anderson seem concerned over things like investigating past political foes with taxpayer money. The state legislature seems worried about going after text messaging of all things, while shirking their duties to examine the budget and cut programs not necessary out in order to fund first things first.

The Congressional leadership and the President of the United States seem hellbent on passing lobbyist written legislation on so called health care reform whether the people want it or not. Indeed, passing such is so important the President of the United States is postponing a foreign trip and putting his Presidency on the line to pass legislation that will likely do nothing to alleviate actual health care costs in the long term.

The feelings of frustration and angst among the people are justified. Far too many people face increased insurance costs and local taxes while they worry about holding their jobs. Far too many politicians seem worried about who contributes to their campaign funds more than who they represent. Far too many political activists, on the right and left, seem eager to exploit the feelings of frustration and angst in order to satisfy their selfish craving for power and relevance.

History is filled with how nations fell because their people did not believe in themselves and one another. The United States has faced this situation several times before. Each time the people prevailed because the people chose to have faith and to believe in themselves, their institutions, their economy and that God will guide them to a better day. The people went to work believing that despite how bad today looked, they were working for a better tomorrow. Time and time again in great times of national trial, that faith in a better tomorrow led to such. That faith held the nation together.

The United States remains one of the greatest nations in human history. No nation has rebuilt its enemies, stood for human rights, or built an economy like the United States. To remain what Ronald Reagan called, "that shining city on a hill," the people must have faith in themselves and our leaders must have faith in us.

The rich man must believe that the poor man matters. The poor man must not hate the rich man for his success. The elected official must not patronize his constituents and his constituents must hold the elected official accountable with goodwill, not anger. Big business must treat its customers and shareholders with respect. We have to have faith in the future and in our own sense of goodwill and believe that others have a sense of goodwill. Indeed, we must find that faith in ourselves and each other or we will surely fail. To do so, we must tune out the voices that tell us to loathe our fellow Americans for this or that reason and tell us that tomorrow will be worse than today. Indeed, it is the difficult times of a person or of a nation in which faith and the willingness to work in goodwill with that faith, defines the character of a person or a nation. God Bless the United States of America. Count me as someone who believes our best days are yet to come.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A sad way for a remarkable life to end

Juanita Goggins had remarkable achievements in her life. In 1974, Goggins became the first African American woman to be elected to the South Carolina General Assembly. Goggins served with distinction for three terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives. Last year, the South Carolina General Assembly acted to name a portion of a highway after Goggins. It was the first formal recognition of her remarkable accomplishment.

One would think that someone like Goggins would have enjoyed the path of an historic figure. One would like to think of her as living out her life as someone honored and respected and engaged in public affairs. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

According to various published reports, including those from WIS-TV and The State, Goggins was found dead in her Columbia home on March 3rd, after apparently dying from hypothermia in her home some days before. The published articles suggest the political pioneer was estranged from people, perhaps suffering from dementia, and died alone and cold.

The death of Juanita Goggins teaches us as much about South Carolina and politics and life as her life did. Politics is a cold game at its core. Some of its players have contributed greatly to life in South Carolina, but are forgotten. Their accomplishments are hijacked by others. Their names are rarely mentioned. Their names and deeds are left to dusty old journals and hard to reach media microfiche that hardly anyone reads.

That brings the lesson of life the manner of the passing of Goggins teaches us all. One never knows who he is really dealing with. When one patronizes or ignores another person, especially an older person, one could be dealing such insult to an ex legislator, ex-political operative, ex-business leader or even a winner of military honors. The old lady you think is a little crazy and keeps to herself could be a champion of civil rights. The old man who you think is strange in the hours he keeps could be a winner of the Silver Star who relives far too much of his youth at times. That is why we should reserve judgment based on surface appearances and treat all of our neighbors with the same respect that we want for ourselves.

The third lesson is that cruel illness, dementia. So many South Carolina families deal with that cruel illness as they watch a loved one slip away. Added to that is the fact that few, if any, outside the family, take a moment to realize just who they are dealing with and the accomplishments the person slippling away had in life. Instead, that person is just another old person, an account number to the insurance company and the utility providers. Any of us can accomplish great things and then spend our last days being little more than someone's file number. It is the age we live in. Such a world compounds the feelings of isolation brought on by dementia.

The manner of the passing of Juanita Goggins should make all of us sad, regardless our political stances. It is sad when any human being leaves this world cold and alone. But, it is especially telling when a political pioneer goes out that way. Unfortunately, there are alot of Juanita Goggins who die every day. Some are war heroes, captains of business, great sports coaches, whatever. But, in the end, they die alone and are to the rest of the world just some file number to be dealt with.

Monday, March 08, 2010

GOP Governor's Race is wide open

For several months now, the conventional political wisdom has had Attorney General Henry McMaster as the odds on favorite for the Republican nomination for Governor of South Carolina. Learned pundits of South Carolina politics suggested that McMaster might win the nomination without a runoff.

Perhaps that could still happen. However, a recent Rasmussen poll indicates that the Republican race for Governor is turned into a wide open affair. According the poll, the numbers of support were as follows: Attorney General McMaster 21%, Lt. Governor Bauer 17%, Congressman Barrett 14%, and State Representative Haley 12%. Undecided currently holds the lead at 29% and "others" bring in 9%.

According to the Rasmussen poll, 38% of the vote in the SC GOP Gubernatorial primary is up for grabs. That is bad news for McMaster. Though the McMaster camp sent out an email spinning their lead, they can not be happy being in the position that they seem to be in. Though it was a smart move to get out ahead of the spin on the poll and declare it as good news, the inevitability factor McMaster had is now gone.

With so many votes up for grabs and the actual support for each candidate so relatively close, the Governor's race for the GOP nomination is very interesting. McMaster will probably finish the primary with a spot in the runoff. The other spot in the runoff is certainly up for grabs.

It will be interesting to see how the campaigns spin the numbers and other polling numbers that come out. one thing is certain, if the Rasmussen poll is accurate, South Carolina Republicans are in for one heckuva race for Governor.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Top 9 things you do not want to hear your doctor say

9) Sorry about that surgical mistake, but the penis is not all that important for a man your age. You can live without one.

8) Damn, that is pretty bad. I think we might make some medical journal article with this one.

7) Relax sir, we might be out of anesthesia, but hemorrhoid surgery is not really that painful.

6) You don’t mind if my little daughter makes the incision do you? It’s a snow day and she is getting bored.

5) The hospital administrator tells me I cannot tell you what is wrong with you until we get the results of your wallet biopsy.

4) If this does not work, do you mind if I call on your wife after a respectful time?

3) You breathe the gas in deep and I will drink a shot or two of bourbon and we both will feel better about all this.

2) Here’s a magic marker. Write on your body what I am supposed to operate on incase I forget.

1) Yes, please tell me about the drug ad you saw on television. Perhaps I should prescribe that drug to you.

This and that after a few days off

The staff of VUI took some needed vacation time from blogging this week, only to come back to a list of things that need to be addressed. Who knew that the first week in March would be so interesting?

First, there is the mess in Anderson County local government. Finally, the investigation into the former administrator and council got put in the right hands when Sheriff John Skipper and Solicitor Chrissy Adams kicked the investigation to the Attorney General, SLED and the South Carolina State Grand Jury. Frankly, it is hard to tell who is right and who is wrong in Anderson County local government. Neither side seems to really embrace limited government, only getting even. Perhaps letting the state get in the matter will settle the matter once and for all and the factions can stop spending the people’s money in the mud fight.

Second, there was the victory of Governor Rick Perry of Texas in the Texas Republican Primary. Perry defeated Kay Bailey Hutchinson. What is notable about Perry’s victory is that Perry ran a campaign without the first yard sign or piece of direct mail. In Texas in 1948, Lyndon Johnson won the United States Senate Democratic Primary by introducing mass mailings and media buys into statewide politics, setting a standard that became a national trend for major elections. Perhaps Perry has ushered the exit of old traditions such as yard signs and the get out the vote mail out with his victory.

Third, there was the end of the Dwight Drake experiment in the South Carolina Democratic Gubernatorial Primary. On the eve of Drake entering the race, Democratic insiders in Columbia talked him up as their “secret weapon” candidate. The secret weapon turned out to be a dud. Drake never raised the money he was supposed to and never gained traction. In the end, Drake’s candidacy appeared to some Democratic insiders VUI has talked to as just a campaign to attack Vincent Sheheen in order for some in the Columbia crowd to settle a score with Sheheen’s father, Fred. Don’t cry for Drake, though. He will still rake in the big money as a lobbyist. A sound defeat could have prevented that.

Fourth, as VUI predicted in an earlier post, the allies of Nikki Haley are aiming their attacks at Congressman Gresham Barrett in the Republican Gubernatorial Primary. The attacks might have made a dent, as Barrett’s most recent ad seems more like a Congressional re-election ad than an ad for a candidate for Governor. Perhaps Barrett had to air something to defend his record in Congress. But, the fact he had to spend some of his campaign money to do so and get off the message of his gubernatorial campaign was what the Haley camp wanted. The Barrett camp had looked stronger than the others over the past few weeks until recently. Allowing Haley’s allies to direct the conversation was a mistake.

What a few days in politics! The above are just high points of all that happened. It teaches VUI to take a few vacation days before things supposedly get heated. Thanks for reading and commenting. The next few months are going to be fun.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The President's Plan will make the real problem with health care worse

The President of the United States and his allies in the United States Congress seem determined to pass so called health care reform. Part of the reform is to provide government money to assist people with paying health insurance premiums. The cost of premiums is a problem. A bigger problem is the cost of health care in general.

The administrative costs are far too high in health care. Services are outrageously priced. There are reasons for that.

First, health care is not the typical market choice. No one can be expected to make a rational economic choice in the back of an ambulance after an auto accident or when told that they have cancer. Most people will choose to be in debt the rest of their lives to extend their lives.

That brings in the second factor of why health care costs so much. Financial minds working for profit based medical service providers have an idea of what the average person is worth and can “cough up” for a procedure. With medicare and insurance subsidizing the market, health care providers can take whatever that set price per person is and multiply times five.

Here is an example. Suppose the financial people of a for profit health care provider determine that the average person can afford to pay $20,000 for a procedure. The average person’s medical coverage, after a deductible, covers 80 percent of a major medical procedure. Thus, in the effort to gain the most money and profit, the for profit health care provider can set the price for the procedure at $100,000, knowing that the insurance company or the government programs will cover $80,000. The patient, after paying premiums for years, is still stuck with the $20,000 bill he could either afford or finance in the first place.

A government subsidy via tax credits or direct payments for health insurance will not solve the problem. If anything, it will only drive up the cost of insurance while insurance and government programs continue to subsidize the actual cost of health care.

If you doubt the above, just look at what happened in South Carolina state government with two well intentioned measures. Back in late 1990s, the South Carolina General Assembly widely approved a program that gave money to local governments to reduce property taxes. Since then, local governments have grown incredibly and most people are paying more in real dollars in property taxes with so called property tax relief than they were paying before property tax relief was started.

The South Carolina Lottery was supposed to create scholarships to make college education more affordable. However, if you look again at what students end up paying out of pocket on average, students, even with the scholarships, are paying more to go to college now than ever.

Indeed, the federal government uses subsidies to keep farm prices high. So, the federal government should know how subsidies, via whatever form, eventually work. Subsidies to businesses and governments have never reduced the prices for the consumer in the long run. It is simply not logical to expect anything different from the health care industry. Such is what happens when lobbyists get big government to work for big business. The so called “reform” package will be a boondoggle for the health care industry in the long run and will make the real problem of health care pricing even worse.

Monday, March 01, 2010

College sports recruiting is out of control

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, college recruiting, especially in football, seemed to be out of control. In an attempt to control the recruiting, the NCAA handed down stiff sanctions, banning schools from television appearances, bowl games, and conference championships.

Now, that money in all college sports, not only football, is so big, such sanctions do not seem possible. Can anyone really imagine a major conference turning down big money from the likes of ESPN to televise a game involving one of the conference’s teams?

While that is bad enough, what is really crazy with college sports recruiting is how young it starts and the so called “showcase” tournaments that go on.

Over the past few weeks, published reports have the University of South Carolina baseball team offering a scholarship to a 14 year old high school freshman from Wando who has never played the game of baseball at the varsity level. On the West Coast, Southern California Head Football Coach Lane Kiffen offered a 13 year old quarterback from Delaware a scholarship. How anyone thinks that a 13 year old or 14 year old has the maturity to make such a decision is beyond VUI. And, we are Gamecocks fans to the core.

If such seems insane, consider what goes on in youth sports, especially in the sports of baseball and basketball. So called “showcase” travel teams are made up of talented children that play in tournaments for college coaches and pro scouts to watch. The coaches of those “showcase” teams find themselves paid by big advertisers and have big time college tickets pressed into their hands. Indeed, even high school coaches in SC enjoy free passes to major college sporting events.

If a thousand years from now, archaeologists were to find one of the recruiting newsletters that are published, they would likely conclude that our society worshipped athletically talented children to the point of obsession.

About thirty or so years ago, the NCAA was right to act to try to stop colleges from paying for cars and paying off mortgages and offering cash payments for big time recruits. Now, there is another problem. Coaches, parents, and fans are starting to go after kids at the youngest of ages. People who do not really care about the kids are gaining from those kids talents.

The NCAA can put a stop to all of it. No young athlete should be contacted by a college in any sport until that athlete is a senior in high school. No college coach or scout should be allowed to attend and recruit at so called “showcase” tournaments or games. No high school coach or teacher should be given free tickets to college athletics events.

Some will say such proposals go too far. Fair enough. But, if middle school and JV players are being recruited, is not there something lost about sports that goes far beyond whether or not our favorite college lands the big recruit? Are we so selfish in wanting our college team to win that we condone the obsession with children in sports? Is that who we really are as a society?

Think about it, people. The obsession with young people in athletics has went too far.